Time and again we hear employers say the reason they provide a group retirement plan is to attract and retain quality employees, while younger employees say they are looking for a benefit plan that includes group retirement when choosing an employer.
But when we look at the activity statistics of group retirement plans, we see that fewer than 10% of plan members are even going to the plan provider’s website. Members are not checking their balances and not using the online tools to help plan for their retirement. We conduct employee education sessions for all of our group retirement clients – the younger employees typically don’t attend these sessions.
So, where is the disconnect between younger and/or new employees wanting a retirement plan and the statistics we see on employee use of available tools?
Most employers know they have a compliance requirement to offer employees education regarding their group retirement plan. Almost all of them struggle to get the younger employees to attend or to be engaged in group retirement education sessions.
The following are not the complete answers to the questions above, but here are a few tips that we’ve found can increase the engagement of younger employees:
1. Provide enrolment education sessions at the same time the employee is eligible to join the group retirement plan.
We see many employers provide their new employees with all of the group retirement education and enrolment materials when they are hired or when they are eligible for the group benefits plan, but most group retirement plans have an eligibility period that is different from the benefits plan or the hire date.
Wait until the employee is eligible for the group retirement plan and then provide the materials. The employee will be able to focus on retirement-specific information and not be faced with information overload when they are just trying to figure out where the washrooms are located.
2. Let younger employees learn in their own way.
From our experience, when you allow younger employees to learn at their own pace and through their own method, they’re more likely to take part in the education sessions. They don’t want to sit in an hour-long education session and listen to their retirement consultant go on about the group retirement plan.
The younger employees want access to tools that are relevant to their generation. In some provinces, electronic enrolment is available, so young employees can educate themselves and enroll on their own time. Many plan providers are offering mobile apps and using gamification to supplement the educational experiences, and we’ve begun to see a slight rise in younger employee engagement from this tactic.
Consultants still need to do a better job of letting these employees know what’s available, but we’re seeing an improvement in engagement, especially in the more technologically proficient workplaces.
3. Have age- or generation-specific education sessions.
One of the reasons younger employees don’t attend the “classic” education session is that information given during this type of session is usually more focused on an older generation. The younger employees aren’t interested in how much of a CPP benefit they can expect in today’s dollars.
There should be a separate session for younger employees with relevant information for their stage in life, such as: What is the newest app available for this? Is this website compatible with my mobile device? Where can I get that information myself? Younger employees are used to creating their own shopping experience and we should remember this when we create education sessions for the younger generation.
Employers know the value of offering group retirement plans to younger employees and want to be competitive employers in their market. Offering information sessions in a way that young people have demonstrated an attraction to should increase employee engagement with the overall group retirement plan.