Large employers are flocking to make 401(k) plan participation a default option.

About 66% of employers that offer both defined benefit and defined contribution plans have adopted the new “automatic enrollment” feature or are considering adding the feature, according to researchers at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, and Mercer Human Resource Consulting, New York.

The researchers interviewed retirement services staffers at 163 employers.

Only 32% of nonprofits have adopted auto enrollment, but the penetration rate is 88% in the financial services and banking industries, the researchers report.

At employers that adopt auto enrollment, employees must take active steps if they decide they want to refrain from participating in an employer’s 401(k) plan or other defined contribution plan.

The researchers found that 48% of surveyed employers already have adopted or are thinking about adopting the “automatic escalation” feature, which permits plans to increase participant deferral rates automatically.