There’s no way around it: the Great Recession was a dark period for many small businesses. But according to our national poll of business owners with 50 or fewer employees, it may have ultimately provided a silver lining that has led more to address an important issue they’ve been putting on the backburner for years –retirement.
At the outset of the Great Recession back in 2008, according to our research, only ten percent of small business owners in this country offered a 401(k) plan. But after weathering a five-year recession, that number has risen to 24 percent, according to a new survey by ShareBuilder 401K (the business I manage).
The data revealed a growing recognition about the importance of having a retirement plan– whether their company offered a 401(k) plan or not — with 82 percent seeing 401(k)s as an effective retirement tool, and 50 percent feeling it’s their responsibility as an employer to offer a plan to employees.
Most of us have parents or grandparents who lived during the Great Depression – another period that, while incredibly tough to get through, also provided valuable life-long lessons in respect to personal savings. Ask any survivor of the Great Depression and they’ll tell you: living through that time gave them a much deeper appreciation of saving, how quickly economies can change, and that you can never be too prepared for a financial crisis.
Similarly, more small business owners who may have put off or minimized the need for starting a retirement plan are now making it a priority for themselves and their employees.
There’s no question that the Great Recession was incredibly tough for many. At the same time, it may have been an important impetus for some to save more, as the future is looking brighter for more small business owners and their employees to achieve a Great Retirement as well. And that’s a very good thing.