An offer of a 401(k) retirement plan is an important benefit no matter how old the worker. The plans for automatic savings, often boosted by an employer contribution, are explained here.
401(k) history. An article by Lee Ann Obringer at the howstuffworks site describes the history and reasoning behind the 401(k) idea. The investing option is named for its location in section 401, paragraph k of the Internal Revenue Code. Though it was first proposed in 1978, regulations for its use weren't published by the IRS until 1991, according to this post. Obringer describes advantages of the investment option, including any "free" money that employers kick in when workers divert income to a 401(k) as one case where something that sounds too good to be true really is true.