Less than half of workers would opt for increased pension contributions over more immediate financial rewards from their employers, according to research published last week by Hymans Robertson.
The state of DC in 2012: why it needs to change and how report found that only 42% of employees surveyed would prefer their employer to offer them additional pension contributions of 10% a year.
More than one in five (21%) would rather receive contributions to a savings vehicle of 7.5% a year, 28% would rather receive a 5% pay rise every year and 9% would opt for share options in the company.
Hymans Robertson also found that only 16% of those surveyed said looking for a good pension scheme was a key factor when looking for a new job, while 27% said it made no difference. A further 18% said it was not very important.
From the employer viewpoint, only 19% of those surveyed said they viewed their defined contribution pension scheme as the most important aspect of the benefits package they offer employees. One-third (33%) of those questioned said they view their pension scheme as just one aspect of an overall benefits package
Lee Hollingworth, head of DC at Hymans Robertson, said: 'This is staggering. Consumer trust in the power of pension saving is now so low that the majority would happily opt for a less generous financial reward over a huge boost to their pension pot.
'DC pensions are clearly viewed with total apathy by most employees and employers alike. Under the old, final salary system, consumers had their hands held through retirement saving, ending up with a good pension pot. In the new world, that hand-holding has gone, while current contribution rates suggest at best a minimal chance of retiring on a good income.'
Mr Hollingworth said that, with the introduction of auto-enrolment imminent, it was 'critical' to get DC pensions right. 'Without action, we risk exacerbating a "DC Generation" that will be unable to afford to retire. This generation will be forced to work longer, blocking career development for younger employees and increasing bottom line costs for companies,' he said.
'The present system of guidelines and recommendations on how to build a good DC scheme isn't working. We are left with no choice - we need mandatory requirements, imposed by government, on company involvement in the running of DC schemes to overcome the problems faced,' he added.
In particular, Hymans Robertson called for companies to be required to undertake a regular review of their pension scheme objectives based on achieving the best outcomes for members on retirement.
Employers should also regularly review their default investment funds, putting in place a structure that delivers the best outcome for each type of member in their scheme. This could involve the use of several default funds, Hymans Robertson noted.
Members should also receive effective, targeted and regular communications from their employer that engage them in their pension pot and let them know how their savings are performing in line with achieving a target income.
And, the consultancy said, employers should also regularly review their choice of DC delivery vehicle, its administration and also the charges involved in investing members' savings.