Tag Archives: Survey

Divorce Seen As Biggest Challenge to Stable American Family Life, New Survey Reveals

New York, New York (PRWEB) October 18, 2006

Americans point to divorce as the biggest challenge to stable family life today, outpacing other factors (1) such as same-sex or dual-career couples, according to a new survey, The Changing Shape of the American Family. Conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Martindale-Hubbells lawyers.com from LexisNexis and Redbook magazine, the survey is featured in the November issue of Redbook.

Nearly nine in ten (88%) of U.S. adults say divorce has a negative impact on maintaining a stable American family life. In comparison, 53 percent feel that way about same-sex couples, and 50 percent say dual-career households negatively impact families. Virtually all U.S. adults (99 percent) acknowledge that families have changed over the past generation, and 70 percent say those changes have been for the worse.

Clearly, many Americans are anxious about the forces that threaten family. They’re struggling to understand all this change and what it means for their own personal choices, but they also feel a lot of compassion toward other families that make different choices–or don’t have a lot of choices, said Stacy Morrison, editor-in-chief of Redbook.

Family Law Confuses Majority of Americans

The unease that many U.S. adults feel about non-traditional family arrangements could be compounded by their lack of familiarity with legal concerns that affect families. The survey shows that 85 percent say they are somewhat or not at all knowledgeable about basic family law issues.

Nontraditional families are evolving faster than laws can keep up. Many people now need to take special care to ensure that their family, particularly if its not a traditional nuclear arrangement, is protected financially and legally, said Alan Kopit, legal editor of lawyers.com, the most comprehensive and trustworthy online resource for finding lawyers.

Among the documents Kopit recommends adults consider are wills, prenuptial agreements, co-habitation agreements and powers of attorney.

If you are a grandparent caring for grandkids, or if youre the primary caregiver to minor step-children, you likely have different legal rights and responsibilities than those raising kids in nuclear families, said Kopit. Its important to seek out legal information and counsel to ensure your family is protected.

Todays Typical American Family

The following data from the survey reveals the make-up of American families:

–One-half of all U.S. adults are currently living with a spouse or opposite-sex partner;

–Thirty-six percent of those married or living with a partner currently live with their biological children;

–Nearly one in five (19%) U.S. adults with at least one child in the household also have one non-immediate family member living there (such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent);

–Parental ties are strong: nearly half (45%) of single, never-married U.S. adults live with at least one biological parent; and

–Some Americans go solo: nearly one-in-five (17%) of all adult Americans live alone.

For more information about the survey, visit lawyers.com.

Survey Sample and Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of lawyers.com from LexisNexis and Redbook magazine, between August 16 and 23, 2006 among 1,092 U.S. adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, race/ethnicity, education, household income, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents propensity to be online.

With a pure probability sample of 1,092, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of + / -4 percentage points. Sampling error for sub samples would be higher and would vary. However, that does not take other sources of error into account. This survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About Lawyers.com

Martindale-Hubbells lawyers.com(SM) (http://www.lawyers.com) from LexisNexis is the leading lawyer directory on the Web, providing consumers and small businesses access to a free database of more than 440,000 attorneys and law firms nationwide. Lawyers.com helps site visitors make a fast, informed decision when choosing a lawyer. More than one million searches per month are conducted at lawyers.com by consumers and business people in search of the right lawyer for their needs.

About LexisNexis

LexisNexis

LegalZoom.com National Survey Finds Americans Still Lack Basic Protection; Three out of Four Parents Have Not Prepared a Last Will, Leaving Children Unprotected: One in Five Families Cites Guardianship Disagreements as a Deterrent to Preparing a Will

LOS ANGELES (PRWEB) April 19, 2007

Consumer Reports Survey of EBAY Users Reveals Online Auction Seller Deception and Pitfalls Can be Hard to Avoid

Yonkers, NY (PRWEB) July 3, 2007

Yonkers, NY July 2, 2007 — With 100 million items on sale, eBay is the king of online auctions. But almost half of the eBay buyers that Consumer Reports surveyed encountered deceptions, according to a report in the August issue.

Buyers indicated that some sellers took their money and ran, failed to disclose key details about the merchandise, or overstated the item’s condition. However, deceptions weren’t the only pitfalls for folks to avoid when participating in an online auction. Although eBay prohibits trade in illegal goods, buyers can end up with unsafe products. CR’s secret shoppers had no problem buying lawn darts, a game banned in the U.S., and they tracked down car seats, strollers and other child products recalled for possible safety defects.

“Ebay has 2,000 staff members policing its site around the clock, but with 6.4 million new listings per day, their employees can’t find all the iffy auctions and shut them down instantly,” said Tod Marks, Senior Editor for Consumer Reports. “Buyers must take precautions and learn as much as possible about who they are dealing with.”

To help online auction buyers play it safe and win, the Consumer Reports National Research Center recently asked more than 2,500 subscribers to http://www.ConsumerReports.org about eBay purchases in the past year. Among the findings:

Despite their complaints, 70 percent of those surveyed were highly satisfied overall when buying on eBay. About 90 percent of purchases arrived on time, were accurately described and were perceived a good deal. Nearly half of respondents characterized eBay as an excellent source of hard-to-find items.

Forty percent of survey respondents termed eBay fair or poor for help and customer support. Most victims of unscrupulous sellers tried to fight back, but of those who tried to settle problems with the seller directly, which eBay recommends, only 38 percent were successful.

PayPal, owned by eBay, was by far the most popular payment method and was used for 89 percent of the purchases in Consumer Reports survey.

Complaining directly to eBay authorities satisfied 60 percent of survey respondents who took that action. But the most effective way to deal with dishonesty was among the least used: filing a formal complaint with PayPal. Although only 23 percent of unhappy respondents took that step, 66 percent of those who did said it worked.

A site for sellers:

Sixty-four percent of the 700 survey respondents who sold on eBay in the past year were highly satisfied with their transactions.

Twenty-seven percent of sellers said their auction ad cost far more than expected.

Only about 10 percent of respondents said their freight costs exceeded those computed by the site’s shipping calculator.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls:

U.S. Consumers Lose More Than $7 Billion to Online Threats, Consumer Reports Survey Finds

Yonkers, NY (PRWEB) August 6, 2007

The online threats associated with using the Internet remain high according to Consumer Reports’s latest “State of the Net” survey. Consumer Reports projects that U.S. consumers lost more than $ 7 billion over the last two years to viruses, spyware, and phishing schemes.

Additionally, the “State of the Net” survey shows that consumers face a 1 in 4 chance of succumbing to an online threat and becoming a cybervictim, a number that has slightly decreased since last year.

The number of consumers responding to e-mail phishing scams has remained constant at eight percent. Consumer Reports projects that one million U.S. consumers lost billions of dollars over the past two years to such scams.

Many underage youngsters are at risk on social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, the survey found. In households surveyed with minors online, 13 percent of the children registered on MySpace were younger than 14, the minimum age the site officially allows, and three percent were under 10. And those were just the ones the parents knew about.

Based on the survey, Consumer Reports projects that problems caused by viruses and spyware resulted in damages of at least $ 5 billion replacement over the past two years.

The 2007 “State of the Net” survey was conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center among a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 households with Internet access.

Consumers can visit http://www.ConsumerReports.org/security to access the full “State of the Net” report including free tips related to online protection, avoiding viruses, and reporting cybercrimes.

Among CR’s key 2007 “State of the Net” findings:

Based on survey projections, computer virus infections prompted an estimated 1.8 million households to replace their computers in the past two years and 850,000 households to replace computers due to spyware infections in the past six months. Additionally, 33 percent of survey respondents did not use software to block or remove spyware. And CR projects that 3.7 million US households with broadband remain unprotected by a firewall.

Spam: Consumer Reports’ survey respondents have reported a lower proportion of spam reaching their Inbox than in the past, which CR believes is a result of better spam-blocking. Survey results indicate that about 650,000 consumers ordered a product or service advertised through spam in the month before the survey. Additionally, in 5 percent of the households surveyed that had children under 18, a child had inadvertently seen pornographic material as a result of spam.

Viruses: Computer virus infections held steady since last year according to CR’s survey. CR notes that this is actually a mark of progress for consumers and software makers, because the threats have become more challenging. In the latest survey, 38 percent of respondents reported a computer virus-infection in the last two years. Seventeen percent of respondents didn’t have antivirus software installed.

Spyware: In the past six months, 34 percent of respondents’ computers were exposed to a spyware infection. CR’s survey also reveals that although spyware infections have dropped, the chances of getting one are still 1 in 3, and of suffering serious damage, 1 in 11.

Phishing: Eight percent of respondents submitted personal information in response to conventional phishing e-mails in the past two years, a number that has remained unchanged over the past two years. The median cost of a phishing incident is $ 200. Yet scammers’ tactics are improving – e-mail looks like it comes from a reputable business such as a bank and features better grammar, more believable stories, and more authentic-looking Web addresses.

Consumer Reports rates internet security suites

Consumer Reports tested nine internet security suites, four of which are Quick Picks that protect against viruses, spyware, and spam as effectively as the best stand-alone products.

Survey Shows Parents Need To Do more To Protect Their Children Online

(PRWEB) September 20, 2007

Parents are relying too heavily on their children doing as they are asked to keep them safe online according to new research from UK broadband comparison service BroadbandChoices.co.uk.

84 per cent of parents polled across the UK said that they rate verbal agreement with their children on safe Internet usage as their number one means of monitoring online activity. This comes in the wake of a worrying Government report that one in four children has put themselves in potential danger by secretly meeting strangers they have contacted online1.

Michael Phillips, product director of BroadbandChoices.co.uk, said: “It’s surprising that so many people rely heavily on their child doing what they ask – it just isn’t going to happen in most cases and the Government’s research proves this.

“However, there are a few simple steps parents can take to bolster protection for their child when online. Rather than relying on a single approach, they should use parental control and security software, combined with education, to stop inappropriate material – and people – reaching their child.”

Our research shows that the top four ways parents monitor their child’s online activity are:

1. A verbal agreement to use the Internet safely (84 per cent)

2. The use of parental control software such as McAfee and Norton (63 per cent)

3. Restricting the amount of time children spend online (62 per cent)

4. Manually checking the computer to see what they have been doing online (59 per cent)

This represents a three-fold increase on a similar study carried out two years ago.

Behind their parents’ backs

The poll also asked children aged 11-16 what they had actually been doing online during the school holidays. The top three activities were:

1. Downloading music and photos (48 per cent)

2. Joining in with chat rooms and making new friends online (45 per cent)

3. Using social networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook (40 per cent)

“The wide availability of the Internet has made ‘stranger danger’ omnipresent. Parents need to be made more aware of the simple checks that they could put in place to safeguard their children who are increasingly using the Internet to build new relationships.

“As well as the possible safety threats posed by the Internet, your child’s online activities could land you a bigger bill at the end of the month. With 48 per cent of children regularly downloading from the Internet, usage allowances could easily be exceeded and parents could find themselves out of pocket at the end of the month if they aren’t able to monitor it,” concluded Phillips.

BroadbandChoices.co.uk’s top five tips for protecting your children online

1. Parental control software: Some ISPs like AOL and BT offer parental controls as part of their service, while other users can get them with their antivirus and security suites. Parental controls allow you to block certain sites and keywords, apply different settings for different age groups and monitor your child’s online activity. You can also use the Messenger Plus! program to keep a log of conversations they might be having using Instant Messenger.

2. Education: Completely banning older children from the Internet is unlikely to stop them from using chatrooms and social networking sites, so instead, explain why they need to be careful on the Internet and make sure they know never to give out personal information or meet strangers without an adult around.

3. All on one PC: Keeping the family computer in the living room is a great way of ensuring that your children stay safe online. They’re far less likely to spend time in chatrooms or downloading illegally if their parents are in the same room. Also, make sure that you’re set as the administrator on any PC in the home, so that only you can change the settings on your parental control software.

4. Antivirus and firewall software: Using security software to protect your PC will also protect your child from spam emails with inappropriate content, and phishing emails where they could give out personal information including bank details.

5. Monitor downloads: If you’re concerned about the affect your children’s downloading is having on your monthly usage allowance, use a Broadband Download Monitor such as ours to keep an eye on downloads and set alarms to alert you when you near your limit.

BroadbandChoices.co.uk’s download monitor can be accessed at http://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk/broadband-download-monitor.html

About BroadbandChoices.co.uk: http://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk

BroadbandChoices.co.uk is the second biggest broadband comparison service in the UK. Unlike other comparison sites, BroadbandChoices.co.uk doesn’t just focus on price but total package value. Consumers can now refer to this impartial Website to access the latest broadband advice and deals, to help them make the right choice.

What makes BroadbandChoices.co.uk different:

Most comprehensive range of consumer guides and advice
Emphasis on value rather than cost alone
Variety of ways to rank products according to individual priorities
Detailed product information
A community of like minded people where you can read reviews or share your thoughts
Up-to-date information regarding key industry developments
Access to bespoke interactive tools – [http://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk/speed-tester.html speed tester & broadband download monitor)

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National Survey Reveals Tail-End Boomers Avoid Participating in Parents’ Estate Planning: Survey by LegalZoom.com Finds that Younger Boomers Avoid their Parents’ Estate Planning, while Older Boomers are More Likely to Discuss and Participate in the Process

LOS ANGELES (PRWEB) May 6, 2008

New Web-based Vorex Online Survey 1.4 Software Bridges Gap in Communication Between School Systems, Students and Parents

Dallas, Texas (PRWEB) August 12, 2008

Vorex, Inc., a leading provider of web-based software tools to increase productivity and efficiency, has released Vorex Online Survey V. 1.4 for both public and private K-12 school systems as well as higher education facilities such as Universities, vocational Universities, community colleges, liberal arts colleges, technical colleges and career colleges. The new web-based Vorex Online Survey software provides educators and administrators with the ability to easily create and distribute professional-grade, fully customized online surveys and forms in a cost-effective manner.

“We are extremely pleased to unveil Vorex Online Survey software to school educators and administrators to better close the gap in communication between the schools and their student body – as well as effectively reach parents,” said Mike Salem, President of Vorex, Inc. “Our new SaaS solution is the most cost-effective and highly efficient method of issuing surveys and obtaining instantaneous results and accurate information. We are providing a true solution for school systems seeking to interact with both parents and students in a paperless, eco-friendly format,” concluded Salem.

The robust functionality of the new Vorex Online Survey software is illustrated by the following features:

Absolutely no additional software, hardware, or computer programming knowledge is needed to use Vorex Online Survey — it runs as a software-as-a-service online.

Choose from 17 different question types ranging from check-boxes, yes/no answers, rating scales and comment fields.

The built-in Spell Check feature ensures a professional presentation.

Auto-skip questions based on respondents’ answers.

Automatically inserts respondent’s answer into subsequent questions.

The survey can expire on a specified date or after a pre-determined number of responses are received.

Allows information sharing with multiple co-workers or different school departments.

Effectively organizes results — create one or hundreds of customized folders to store results.

Easily exports a survey and accompanying results into different formats such as Excel, Word, HTML, or PDF document.

Control access to the survey with optional password requirements.

Post survey results on a secure, password protected web site.

For schools that do not have a web site, or have a limited access web site, Vorex provides a free portal web site that is fully maintained. School educators and administrators have full access to the provided portal web site. They may then direct students or parents to go directly to the portal where survey respondents will enter a unique code for each survey – thereby immediately directing the respondent to the related survey.

As high school teacher Reem Khodr states, “A solution that truly bridges the gap between the school and students — as well as parents — has been long overdue. Finally with Vorex Online Survey, school systems can engage parents regarding their child’s education, gather feedback from students, or collect votes for budget allocations or school elections. School systems will surely gain invaluable insight using the accurate and up-to-date information this web-based survey tool provides,” concluded Khodr.

Visit http://www.vorexsurvey.com/education_institutions/ for more information.

About Vorex, Inc.

Founded in August 2007, Vorex, Inc. is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and is a leading developer of advanced user-friendly online solutions for businesses. The company strives to provide affordable solutions that will increases both organizations and corporations’ productivity and profitability.

Media Contact:

Mike Salem, President

Vorex, Inc.

Tel. 214.621.8324

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Teachers Driving Web 2.0 Use in Schools Says National Research Survey

Bakersfield, Calif. and Cincinnati, OH (PRWEB) April 6, 2009

While many stakeholders are involved in developing policies on the use of Web 2.0 technologies in K-12 education, new research suggests that teachers are the most important group driving adoption. This is a major finding from a national research survey of more than 500 district technology directors. The survey was commissioned by Lightspeed Systems Inc., a leader in network security and management software for schools, and Thinkronize Inc., creator of netTrekker, America’s number one educational search tool, with support from Atomic Learning.

There is a persistent gap between how today’s “digital” kids learn in school and how they work and interact outside of school, a trend that underscores the critical need for districts to keep pace with technological advances and adapt to students’ learning needs. Education leaders are challenged with maintaining a high level of security and safety while allowing for creative and collaborative work in a 21st century classroom. To meet this challenge, Lightspeed Systems and netTrekker developed Safe Schools in a Web 2.0 World, an ongoing initiative to help schools implement Web 2.0 technologies safely and effectively to improve teaching and learning.

In the first part of the initiative, Interactive Educational Systems Design Inc. (IESD), an independent educational research firm, conducted the “National Online Survey of District Technology Directors Exploring District Use of Web 2.0 Technologies” in February and March 2009 to examine the current status, future plans, and ongoing challenges of Web 2.0 in K-12 education. The research survey broke down Web 2.0 into seven categories related to student instruction and learning environments, rather than treating it with a broad brush.

Teachers were most often identified as a key group leading the adoption of a wide variety of Web 2.0 technologies. Specifically, teachers were most frequently cited for driving the adoption of digital multimedia resources (78 percent), online learning games and simulations (65 percent) and teacher-generated online content (60 percent). They were also among the top three groups for student-generated online content (45 percent) and student use of virtual learning environments (42 percent). Another key group identified was students, who were most frequently cited as driving the adoption of social networking and student-generated online content.

“The research indicates that the movement toward Web 2.0 use to engage students and address individual learning needs is largely being driven in districts from the bottom up – starting with teachers and students,” said Dr. Jay Sivin-Kachala, vice president and lead researcher for IESD. “Furthermore, the results show that many districts are using or planning to use Web 2.0 tools in teacher professional development, which suggests that teachers will become increasingly comfortable with these technologies and better able to teach students how to use them safely and productively.”

Overall, the research confirms school districts are using or planning to use several types of Web 2.0 technologies, but reveals there is still resistance to using online social networking for instructional purposes. In 83 percent of districts, very few or no teachers use online social networking for instruction, and 40 percent of districts currently have policies that don’t allow use of this technology. However, some trailblazing districts have plans for adopting or promoting use of this technology.

Other key results of the survey include:

Survey Shows Online Identity Theft a Growing Concern

Sunnyvale, CA (PRWEB) December 16, 2009

In a recent survey about identity theft, Americans said their number one fear was having bank account, credit card or other personal information stolen from their computers. Interestingly, the second greatest concern was about Trojan viruses that can make a computer an unwitting accomplice in distributing spam, infections or child pornography. The survey was conducted by independent research firm Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research on behalf of Kindsight, developer of identity theft protection services.

Identity theft is not new and the threat is real and founded. In 2008, 9.9 million Americans were victims to identity theft, up from 8.1 million in 20071. And criminals are continuing to move online online threats grew three-fold to 1.7 million.2 While much of the attention is focused on monetary loss, damage to reputation is also high in the minds of Americans.

The online culprits are no longer the teen hackers in the basement, but sophisticated criminals, said Mike Gassewitz, Kindsight CEO. Once they have someones personal information, not only can they deplete bank accounts and damage credit ratings but they can also use a persons computer to distribute spam and pornography; essentially they can damage someones wealth and reputation.

The most common attacks include Trojan horses and other viruses, keystroke logging, phishing attacks and spyware. In the Kindsight study, participants named Trojan horses as their top concern.

Although 71% of the survey sample had installed and updated anti-virus software and 44% had enabled a firewall on their home router and/or computers, 30% still recorded having been infected by a virus in the last three months and 77% of the overall sample reported having been infected at some point in their computing life.

Summary of study findings:


56% identified theft of bank account, credit card, or other personal information from their computer as one of their top two concerns;
29% identified Trojan viruses that hijack their computers for the distribution of spam, infections, or child pornography to other computers and users as one of their top two concerns;
27% identified phishing, which further reinforces identity theft as one of their top two concerns;
26% were most concerned with having their computers performance compromised by viruses;
15% were concerned about viruses corrupting their personal photos, videos and other memories.

The online survey was representative of the U.S. population overall with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

About Kindsight:

Kindsight partners with Internet service providers (ISPs) to provide consumers with an additional layer of protection against identity theft and other threats. The Kindsight Identity Theft Protection Service detects threats in your Internet traffic, sends you alerts and shows you step-by-step how to remove threats that put your personal information at risk. The Kindsight service is always-on, always-up-to-date and can not be disabled by criminals since it is embedded in the ISPs network. The Kindsight service is offered for a monthly fee or, like search engines, at no-cost through relevant advertising. Visit http://www.kindsight.net for more information.

1 Javelin Strategy & Research: 2009 Identity Fraud Survey Report: Consumer Version

2 CNNmoney.com: Cybercrime: A secret underground economy, September 17, 2009

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ING Survey: Finds Many Americans Missing Opportunity to Maximize the Value of Workplace Retirement Plans


Atlanta, GA (Vocus) November 9, 2010

Preparing for retirement is like training for a marathon. It takes dedication, determination and a long-term commitment, along with the right support and resources to complete the race. The ING family of companies in the U.S. (ING), today released the results of a nationwide survey of retirement plan participants that underscores how Americans are at a disadvantage when it comes to their own financial marathon.


Research Reveals Most Workers Under-Estimate the Potential Long-Term Power of a Modest Retirement Raise as They Save for Retirement
Nearly 6 in 10 Say They Could Increase Their Annual Contribution Rate Today by Up to 3% of Salary
More than 1 in 5 Set Contribution Rate Based on Gut Feel
ING Rolls Out Easy-to-Use Contribution Rate Calculator to Encourage Greater Retirement Savings

The survey, commissioned by the ING Retirement Research Institute, confirmed that employer-sponsored retirement plans are incredibly important to the workers who participate in them, but most are not maximizing the savings power of these plans to their full potential. The research found that plan investors often fail to recognize the potential long-term benefits that even a small contribution rate increase can produce in helping them successfully reach their retirement goals.

Americans Admit They Can, Should Be Saving More

INGs survey clearly indicates that Americans know they are responsible for their retirement, and admit they could be saving more.

According to the findings, a majority of workers (87%) said they could be saving more in their employer-sponsored retirement plan, a savings vehicle they deem critically important to reaching a secure retirement and the foundation of most their retirement savings strategy. In fact, of the 1,000 workplace retirement plan participants surveyed, nearly two-thirds (64%) said their employer-sponsored retirement plan accounts for all or most of their retirement portfolio. However, many participants are not stretching to maximize their contributions when they can. Moreover, they tend to rely on guesswork when setting contribution levels, and dont fully understand the importance and long-term impact of small increases in contribution rates.

Americans today understand that they shoulder a greater responsibility for securing their own retirement, said Rob Leary, CEO, ING Insurance U.S. They also recognize that an employer-sponsored retirement plan is the cornerstone of their efforts to save for retirement. Still, the issue for many workers, made even more urgent in shaky economic times and an era of volatile equity markets, is scrubbing household budgets and, when possible, finding more dollars to save for retirement. Being cost-conscious is certainly important and prudent, but at the same time, people must also find ways to contribute more into their retirement accounts.

And its not like theyre confident in the future of Social Security. In fact, more respondents (51%) think its more likely that scientists will clone dinosaurs in their lifetime than it is that Congress will save Social Security, and 77% of those with kids at home say their child is more likely to catch a foul ball in the seats at a baseball game than cash a Social Security check.

INGs findings suggest that even though workers may acknowledge the retirement saving challenge, it has not necessarily resulted in better saving behaviors, at least not in their employer-sponsored retirement plans. Of those participants not contributing the maximum to their retirement plan, an overwhelming majority (87%) admitted they could afford to increase their annual contribution by 1% of their annual salary; almost six in ten (59%) said they could up their contribution by 3% of salary; and nearly one third (32%) said they could afford a 5% increase.

The irony is that Americans love raises, Leary said. In our survey, most respondents (76%) would prefer even just a slight raise over a shorter commute to work. We recognize that the current economic environment is challenging for most everyone and robust salary increases are currently not the norm; nevertheless, Americans cannot delay giving themselves a retirement raise. A modest increase in your workplace retirement plan contribution rate can go a long way toward ensuring a more financially secure retirement.

Most Workers Overlook Long-Term Impact of Modest Contribution Rate Increases

INGs survey also indicated that plan participants lacked a clear understanding of contribution rates and the lifetime value of even small increases.

In fact, for many workers, setting workplace retirement plan contribution rates appeared to be either a guess or a back-of-the-envelope calculation. Very few of those surveyed consulted outside resources in determining their contribution levels. Nearly two-thirds (65%) determined their contribution rate themselves, and one in five (21%) said they go by gut feeling.

When asked to estimate the lifetime value of a 2% increase in their contribution rate, only a small percentage could even come close. More often, people miscalculated. Forty percent of respondents underestimated by 50% or more and just about a third (32%) over-estimated by 50% or more.

After choosing to participate in the plan, the most important decision workers make is setting their contribution rate each year, said Catherine Smith, CEO, ING U.S. Retirement Services. However, for too many, participation and contribution rate elections are just another box to check. We need to be more deliberate and take the time to consider things like tax impact, compounding, and the effects of employer matches in making these elections.

Employer-Sponsored Plans the Cornerstone of Retirement Savings

For most Americans, understanding and maximizing the use of workplace retirement plans is critical since these plans are not only the cornerstone of their retirement portfolios, but the main vehicle through which they are exposed to and learn about investing.

Nearly half of the plan participants polled (44%) admitted that if they didnt have a retirement plan at work, they probably wouldnt be saving for retirement at all. In fact, most respondents (58%) said their employer-sponsored retirement account (401(k), 403(b), or 457) was their first investment and over half (52%) said their plan was the main place they learned about investing.

In addition to offering entry to the investing world, many respondents said that their workplace retirement plan continues to provide critical investment knowledge and insight. Better than two out of five (42%) said all or most of their investment knowledge comes from managing their employer-sponsored retirement account.

They also gave overwhelming credit to their employer for putting them on the right path. In fact, those polled cited their employers as having the most influence in getting them to start saving for retirement, followed by family and friends. Moreover, their employer match was cited by most participants as the most important reason they contribute to their workplace plan. Still, there is clearly room for progress. Over half (55%) agreed that if their employer provided them with more detailed education, they might contribute more to their plan. In fact, better than 7 in 10 (72%) wished their company customized information for their personal situation.

For many working Americans, an employer-sponsored retirement plan isnt simply a stepping stone into the investment world, its the foundation for their future investing education and financial decision-making, said Smith. The lessons learned in managing a workplace retirement plan are critical, and they can make the difference between a long and comfortable retirement and a retirement that falls well short of their dreams and goals.

ING Retirement Contribution Rate Calculator