This article documents the rapid decline in the nature of benefits packages being offered by employers, showing that what is happening in post-retirement packages mirrors what is happening with pensions.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):


Key Questions to Explore:

  • What should I look for in any benefits package offered by an employer?

New Terminology:

Defined benefits, defined contributions

Materials Needed:

  • Copies of the article
  • Access to the Internet
Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

The nature of the workplace and employment is changing dramatically. Also there are dramatic shifts happening with offered fringe benefit packages, if, indeed, they are offered at all. Defined benefits packages are rapidly being replaced by defined contribution packages and contracts without any benefit package or accrued seniority whatsoever are replacing permanent positions as companies seek ways of saving money. Young people entering the workforce are tending to place more emphasis on salary and less on benefits packages as they seek ways of meeting their current needs. Future needs are being sacrificed for current ones and that is causing much concern about the nature of retirement for these individuals. This lesson will use the article to have the students give thought to what they should be looking for in order to have a retirement that offers them a reasonable standard of living and lifestyle.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by asking the students what terms and conditions they would look for from the employer when accepting their first job.
  • Make a list of their ideas.
  • Once this has been done, review the list to see what attention benefits packages has received.
  • If benefits packages have not been mentioned or developed in any way, indicate to them that this is an important aspect of terms of employment.
  • Divide the class into groups of five or six students and ask them to identify why these packages are important and what should be in them.
  • Allow them time to prepare their answers.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have each group present their findings and then indicate to them that there are major shifts occurring in the nature and type of benefits packages.
  • Give them copies of the article and allow them time to read and discuss it in their groups.
  • Once this has been done, hold a plenary session during which insights and questions can be shared.
  • With this completed, indicate to them that the health benefits issue parallels what is happening with retirement packages – if they are offered at all – and ask the students to research and define both defined benefits packages and defined contribution packages.
  • Allow them to do the research and then get their responses and ideas concerning the importance of the difference and what it might mean for them in the future.


Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • The students will realize the importance of considering benefits packages when entering the workforce and what might be required of them to prepare for their retirement.

Confirming Activity:

  • As a concluding and confirming activity, ask the students to identify what they would now look for in the terms and conditions of any offered position or employment contract and what they now believe they need to do to prepare for future retirement.