To address the significant challenges faced by most Americans to achieve their retirement objectives, Prudential Financial has outlined steps for individuals and companies can take to significantly improve retirement security prospects in America. The company is sharing these steps in a new white paper, a TED conversation, and a video.

The white paper, “Achieving Retirement Security in an Age of Uncertainty: Three Important Steps,” authored by President of Prudential Retirement, Christine Marcks, highlights challenges facing Americans as they prepare for retirement. These challenges include saving enough to cover longer life-spans, generating retirement income from those savings, achieving adequate investment returns in an environment of low interest rates, market volatility, and managing rising healthcare costs.

The white paper outlines three specific steps to achieving greater retirement security. At a time when fewer and fewer people have access to the guaranteed income of a traditional pension plan, the first step is to bring back guaranteed income, but make it flexible. Specifically, Prudential encourages employers to offer guaranteed income solutions within workplace retirement plans. In addition, with the help of their financial advisors, individuals should add guaranteed retirement income solutions to their personal investment portfolios.

The second step is to improve saving and investing behavior. One way to improve savings behavior is to give more employees access to workplace retirement plans. The Multiple Small Employer Plan concept makes offering a retirement plan easier for the many small employers who are not able to offer such plans today. For employers that already offer retirement plans, another way to improve savings and investing behavior is to add enrollment and automatic contribution escalation features to those plans.

With 44 percent of investors stating in a recent survey that they would not put more money into the stock market, the paper recognizes the important role that investing in equity markets plays in realizing retirement objectives.

The third step to achieving greater retirement security outlined in the white paper is optimizing Social Security decisions. Although Social Security benefits have been decreasing due to factors such as increases in the full retirement age, these benefits have a critical role to play. Social Security accounts for nearly 40 percent of the average retiree’s income, according to a June 2010 report by the Employee Benefits Research Institute. Among the strategies to optimize Social Security decisions, married couples should, for example, plan and coordinate their decision to take full advantage of the worker and spousal benefits available to them.

“Achieving Retirement Security in an Age of Uncertainty,” will be the subject of a TED conversation starting April 9 and running for three weeks, during which Christine Marcks will lead an online dialog on with the TED community. In addition, Prudential Retirement has created a short, consumer-oriented video with Marcks sharing the steps individual Americans can take to enhance their prospects for achieving retirement security.