The boss holds the keys to retirement success, according to a survey by American Century Investments released Thursday.

American workers value their employer-sponsored retirement plans so much that more than three out of four would choose a match on their retirement contribution over a comparable salary increase, according to American Century Investments, a privately held investment management fiirm in Kansas City, Mo.

The survey included 1,504 full-time employees who participate in their employers’ retirement plan.

"Plan participants told us that, without a doubt, they would be in much worse shape without access to an employer-sponsored plan," says Diane Gallagher, American Century Investments vice president of practice management. "Nearly all express regrets about their personal savings habits, which says to us that employers have the opportunity to structure plans that can help drive more effective retirement preparations for their employees. In essence, employers have the keys to the kingdom."

Eight out of 10 employees want at least a slight nudge from their employers in helping to save and invest for retirement, according to the respondents, and 70 percent believe automatic enrollment at 6 percent is something the company should do.The same 70 percent show at least some interest in a regular, incremental automatic increase.

"Although plan sponsors may be reluctant to put into place aggressive defaults or automatic programs for fear of employee backlash, our research shows that participants are actually in favor of these types of measures," Gallagher says. "As long as there is an opt-out provision in place, we believe that employers can pay attention to the overwhelming validation among plan participants for automatic features."

More than 80 percent of workers strongly agree that their employer offering a retirement plan makes them feel better about their job, and two-thirds of employees would choose to work for a company offering a retirement plan over one that does not, even if a competing company offered a five percent higher salary.