FINRA this week issued an investor alert urging the roughly 30% of American workers who are not contributing enough to their 401(k) plans to receive a full employer match to step up their contributions in order to meet their eventual retirement needs.

The alert, titled “Why Leave Money on the Table – Make the Most of Your Employer’s 401(k) Match – claims that too few workers are taking advantage of a simple benefit that can pay large dividends when investors reach retirement age. One of the most common matches is a dollar-for-dollar match of up to 3 percent of the employee's salary.

“Even in tough economic times, all employees still need to prepare for their retirement. Taking full advantage of a company's 401(k) match is a no-cost way for workers to boost their retirement savings,” Gerri Walsh, FINRA Vice President of Investor Education, said in the alert. "Employees who contribute less than their employers are willing to match are walking away from free money."

FINRA officials said younger workers are even more likely to leave money on the table, with 43% of workers age 20-29 failing to contribute to the full extent of their employer's match. An earlier study showed that 40% of employees making less than $40,000 fall short of contributing the full extent of their employer's match.

“Millions of workers, especially younger and lower income workers who need it most, are leaving money -- free money -- on the table,” FINRA said.