BY DEBBIE PATTON, CONSULTANT, INVESTMENT & RETIREMENT
Whether it’s maintaining compliance with Capital Accumulation Plan (CAP) guidelines, illustrating the value of the plan or any other reason, employers spend time, energy and money to create and deliver information on their retirement and savings plans to employees. But is it working?
Sometimes the message is a one-time call to action. For example, if an organization makes changes to its investment options and removes funds, they’ll need to inform members, particularly those invested in the affected funds, and provide them with information on how to update investment instructions and how they’ll be invested if they don’t take action. After the fact, it’s easy to measure who updated their investments and who allowed their assets to invest in the default investment option.
However, more often then not, communications aim to show employees how to make the most of their plan and it isn’t always easy to engage employees with these communications. How can employers generate buzz about their plan without causing information overload to employees or taxing their already stretched resources? Consider the following suggestions:
Set the tone at the top- Employees take cues from leadership on attitudes relating to company culture and priorities. Have leaders take the time to attend group information sessions and actively participate by asking questions- leading by example. An organization can also find ways to have leadership promote the plan, bringing up a recent article about retirement posted on the company intranet in a town hall, for instance.
Receive a helping hand from employees - In many organizations, especially larger ones, employees likely spend more time interacting with their peers than with leadership. Team members who are social, dynamic and well respected can act as goodwill ambassadors for the plan. This doesn’t mean they’ll be giving advice about investments or retirement planning, but simply being enthusiastic and directing peers to the appropriate resources. It’s not uncommon for employees who are nearing retirement to say they wish they’d known more about the importance of making the most of their retirement plan earlier in their career. Just sharing their experiences with coworkers could go a long way. Creating an ambassador network with some of these employees, providing them with a heads-up on updates and asking them to help share news with their peers can increase engagement in your plan.
Encourage more discussion – Often, while researching information on their retirement plan, individuals will ‘accidentally’ learn invaluable information. Why not start a discussion forum on the company intranet? This would allow employees to share information with one another. In addition, creating a contest for employees, encouraging them to share knowledge or do research can also foster engagement, it’s amazing how much an employee can learn by doing a small amount of research – why not incent that research with a prize?
Make it fun and easy - The unexpected crisis or deadline can always pop up, but try to make it easy for employees to take an hour or so to attend a scheduled group information session. Providing food or entry into a contest can be a great motivator that won’t break the bank.
Regardless of the size, structure or location of an organization, there are probably many ways to easily incorporate the value of a retirement and savings plan into daily business activities. Just get creative!