This piece was adapted from Financial Planning magazine

Employees want to ensure security when they retire -- so much so that 57% would prefer better retirement benefits over a higher salary.

According to a new survey by Transamerica Retirement Services, older workers (60% of baby boomers and 66% of pre-retiree participants) mostly said they would take better retirement benefits, while 49% of the Generation X workers replied the same.

However, a majority of those surveyed would go further than that: Approximately 55% said they would be willing to reduce their current standard of living in order to reach their retirement goals.

The survey, conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates in August for Transamerica, questioned 500 employees working for small to midsize companies and another 200 employers. Transamerica also conducted a follow-up poll in October (conducted by International Communications Research) that asked similar questions of 226 employees.

In addition to their work-sponsored retirement plans, 61% of the participants said they have an outside retirement savings account as well. And about 49% said they were likely to increase their contribution limits over the next two years, with more Generation X employees saying they would increase their contributions significantly rather than moderately.

"We’re very heartened to see that people continue to be committed to their retirement plans and keep their long-term perspective," said Catherine Collinson, senior vice president at Transamerica Retirement Services.

Some alarming statistics within the survey, however, are that 41% participants do not know how much money they will need to retire. And of those who did give an estimate, 39% said they guessed at the number, while just 15% said they took into account current living expenses, expected investment earnings and the economy. Another 20% said they calculated the number and 10% had the number produced by a financial adviser.

"People on one level are very committed to saving, [but] they need some help and some direction," Collinson said.

Also, most participants said they were only vaguely familiar with the recent tax law changes -- approximately 46% said they were aware of the increased contribution limits, while only 20% said they were aware of the catch-up provisions. Though a majority said they would take advantage of the increased limits, 53% of the employers who were surveyed said the changes would not increase contributions or plan participation.

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