According to the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America, 20% to 25% of all employees eligible to participate in their firms equity-based 401(k) do not.
Given that many companies offer some sort of match, this is an especially disappointing trend. Its caused, I believe, mainly by lack of knowledge among potential participants.
This is a disservice to all concerned. For participants, it may result in smaller retirement nest eggs than they might otherwise have built up; and, for you, the advisor, it may result in lower income.
Fortunately, you can do something about it: Assume the role of knowledgeable and trusted advisor, and take the time and effort to educate and reassure plan participants. (If you fail in this, you may open up the opportunity for another advisor, who is willing to offer reassurance, to replace you.)
To be an effective educator, and to reach the maximum number of plan participants, you should hold at least three educational meetings a year. At each one, cover the important basics–dollar cost averaging, illustrations on how time reduces the risk of loss and can be an investors best friend, and the value of a proper asset allocation.
But, while it is always important to demonstrate the value of saving and investing for the future, it has been my experience that people almost never react to an offer of future benefit/detriment. (There are obvious parallels here to why our society still has so many people suffering from obesity and cigarette smoking: People just cant envision the value of making a change for the future. It is too hard for them to relate to how todays behavior will hurt a future thats 20, 30 or more years off.)