2015 Lincoln Retirement Power ® Participant Engagement Study

Our research highlights attitudes that pose a threat to retirement security and behaviors associated with savings success.

Improve retirement outcomes using research-based insights

The study shows that a group of participants known as “instinct-followers” has increased significantly. This finding has important implications for both plan sponsors and providers and reinforces the value of a flexible, data-based approach to improving retirement outcomes through strategic plan design and participant outreach. The 2015 Lincoln Retirement Power Participant Engagement Study reveals new insights and recommendations to help address these trends.

Participant engagement findings


Plan participants are more optimistic, more confident, and less anxious about retirement success than when surveyed in 2012.


Of the 12 retirement saver types profiled in the Lincoln model, the group that has increased the most is made up of participants who are less engaged with their plans and more instinctive in making plan-related decisions. By their own admission, participants in this group are doing the worst job of preparing for retirement. Plan design strategies and in-person guidance hold the greatest promise for setting these employees on the right path.


Most participants consider themselves competent planners who want to stay on track with their retirement savings. Yet few have defined specific savings goals or created formal, written financial plans—actions that correlate with a positive view of retirement savings progress. Plan sponsors who understand how to motivate their participants to act can make the most progress in bridging this gap.


Participants are motivated by life events and other triggers, meetings with a financial advisor, financial wellness education that addresses competing financial demands, and personalized communications, such as retirement income projections.


In-person meetings are the strongest motivators of positive participant action, while calculators and worksheets have the next greatest impact. The demand for mobile device functionality is growing, especially among younger workers.

Retirement plan participant research methodology

This research is based on a national survey of 2,508 full-time workers, ages 22 to 68, who have been contributing to their current employer’s defined contribution retirement plan for at least one year. The sample is weighted to represent the national population of retirement plan participants, using the same methodology implemented in the first wave of the study conducted in 2012. The current study is the latest addition to the Lincoln Retirement Power Program, which includes research and viewpoints on central issues related to retirement planning—with a focus on driving better retirement outcomes.

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