Companies often offer various benefits like competitive retirement savings plans to attract and retain employees. They can provide company 401(k) matching contributions that stand out as above-average to draw more potential new hires or keep their employees.
Employees who contribute up to their limit can essentially get more "free money" toward their retirement savings. Let's look at three examples of major companies that offer 401(k) employer matching contributions that are above average.
- Employers use benefits like a 401(k) match to attract and retain employees.
- Companies are not required to offer a 401(k) match, but they often use this benefit to compete for workers.
- The average employer contribution match was 4.5% in 2020, and the median match was 4.0%, according to a Vanguard study.
- Major companies that provide some of the biggest matches include ConocoPhillips, Philip Morris International, and Amgen.
Companies with Some of the Best Employer Matches
Employers are not legally obligated to provide employees with a retirement plan. Instead, they do so to provide a benefit to attract and retain good talent.
The average employer match in 2020 was 4.5% and the median employer match was 4.0%, according to a Vanguard study. So, companies that provide more than these amounts are more likely to standout in the job market.
ConocoPhillips, a multinational crude oil producer, offers a 6% match to employees after they contribute at least 1% of their income to their 401(k). Then, the company provides up to another 6% in discretionary contributions based on company performance and other factors. According to the company's plan, ConocoPhillips' goal is to provide at least a 3% discretionary contribution, for a total matching contribution of 9%.
Philip Morris International Inc.
Philip Morris International, a multinational tobacco company, first matches up to 5% of an employee's eligible contributions. Then, it contributes an additional 7% to 15% of the employee's compensation based on the company's annual performance.
Once hired, each Amgen employee is automatically enrolled into the 401(k) plan to contribute 5%, an amount they can adjust. Amgen will match 100% of the first 5% the employee contributes to their plan. Additionally, the company automatically contributes up to 5% of eligible compensation each pay period, regardless of whether the employee makes a contribution to their 401(k) or not.
How Companies Can Offer a 401(k) Match
Tax-advantage retirement plans like 401(k)s are regulated by the IRS and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). They allow employees to contribute a percentage of their paycheck with pre-tax income and then choose their investments. The contributions are not subject to federal income tax until they're withdrawn at a later date, typically during retirement years.
Companies can contribute to their employees' 401(k) plans in several ways, such as dollar-for-dollar matches or partial matches. With dollar-for-dollar matches, the employer will contribute the same amount of money that the employee does—up to a certain amount. For example, if an employee contributes $100 per paycheck, the employer will also contribute $100.
With partial matches, the employer can contribute a percentage of what the employee contributes. For example, if an employee contributes $100 per paycheck, the employer may offer a 50% contribution, or $50.
Companies can offer a matching benefit, or offer other types of contributions. Then, they can deduct their contributions up to the IRS limit. To receive tax deductions, companies cannot offer different contribution matches to management than they offer to their employees. The company also cannot contribute more than the legal limit, which is 100% of the employee's annual pay or $61,000 as of 2022, whichever is the lower value.
Are companies required to offer a 401(k) match?
Employers are under no obligation to provide a retirement plan or a matching 401(k) contribution. However, many companies provide a 401(k) match as a benefit to employees.
What is considered a good employer match?
According to a 2020 study conducted by Vanguard, the average 401(k) match in the previous year was approximately 4.5% and the median match was 4.0%. About 20% of the companies that offered matches required their employees to work for a year before receiving the match.
Should you always try to maximize your contributions to match the employer offer?
Maximizing your 401(k) contributions can help you get the most out of your employer's match. When you contribute up to your employer's matching limit, you avoid leaving "free money on the table." Consider your current financial situation, including your debt obligations and cash flow, as you determine whether to maximize your contributions to match the employer offer.
The Bottom Line
Companies decide how much of a 401(k) match they want to offer, or whether to offer any retirement plan at all. In today's competitive job market, many companies are offering more matching contributions to attract and retain employees. If you are applying for a new job, consider the benefits the company provides, including how much they offer in matching 401(k) contributions.