For group retirement plan sponsors, the formula for getting employees interested in their plans is elusive. Education, promotions, contests—sponsors have tried just about everything to pique interest and increase active participation among plan members.
Employers are making inroads, however. They recognize that their workforces aren’t homogenous. They’re tailoring education, information delivery and even plan design based on the needs of different employee groups. They’re all reviewing studies and trends. But when it comes to understanding the different needs of the newly-hired versus the nearly-retired, savvy employers are going right to the source for additional insight.
Employees born in the ’80s and ’90s live their lives online. It’s natural for them to use tablets and smartphones to enroll online while sitting in an education session. For employers, immediate secure access is a powerful weapon in combating inertia.
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Tailoring plan design is effective, too. Enrolling new employees automatically as they join the firm takes the guesswork and effort out of plan entry, particularly for younger staff members who see retirement a long way off.
One large employer has instituted auto-enrollment: new staff members are signed up for the pension plan, with target date funds as the default option, at the maximum contribution level. Employees are told they can make changes—reducing contribution amounts or opting out entirely—online at any time. They appreciate the easy access, even if they never use it. All employees can receive retirement plan education—tailored to their demographic—online, via webcast and in person.
At the other end of the scale, employees born in the ’50s and ’60s are actively preparing for retirement. They will attend group sessions and presentations for planning purposes, but ultimately want to discuss personal circumstances in detail, in person.
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Online options also get strong support from this group. One employer’s survey indicated that boomers often didn’t have time to schedule in-person sessions, but were happy to access information online while details were still timely.
The mantra seems to be: save early or save aggressively. When younger employees to pay attention early to their eventual retirement needs, they can avoid the retirement savings shortfall that their parents may be facing. On the other hand, boomers approaching retirement need different information and support to play catch-up, assess their options and prepare effectively. By engaging both ends of the generational spectrum in retirement planning, employers add value—both to their plan and to their workforce.