As a communications professional who works in the employee benefits world, I never stop encountering dismal reports on the saving habits of Americans. The data is everywhere—and it’s overwhelming. People aren’t saving for retirement and those who are aren’t saving enough.
As a benefits professional, I’m sure this isn’t news to you, but it does seem like the message isn’t getting to those who need it most—workers like your plan participants who aren’t engaged in their retirement plans and aren’t taking the necessary actions for a secure future.
So how can you help? Consider taking these first two steps to evaluate the resources you offer and measure what’s working:
Step 1—Assess the Programs You Already Have in Place
You no doubt already have a number of ongoing initiatives to help your employees—Perhaps you offer automatic enrollment, provide education on lump-sum distribution vs. lifetime income options or offer access to independent professional advisors.
Start here with this helpful checklist from the International Foundation to gauge your offerings. Browse through and note the actions you are already taking to help increase your workforce’s retirement security.
Step 2—Measure How Well Your Existing Initiatives Are Working
The recent report The Path to Retirement Security in the U.S.: How Employers and Plan Sponsors Can Help contains a helpful list of factors to help you determine the success rate of your programs. Take a look at the list below and start with the factors that are most important to your organization.
- Contribution level—whether current plan contributions are sufficient to pay future obligations
- Investment performance—whether the return on fund assets is being maximized while minimizing risk
- Management fees—the reasonableness of investment management fees given the investment return and services provided
- Liquidity—the ability of the plan to meet anticipated cash flow needs.
Defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors might choose to gauge success based on:
- Investment performance—the return on investment options provided participants
- Plan fees—how much participants pay for various investment choices
- Participation rates—the proportion of eligible employees actually contributing to the plan.
- Participant deferral rates—how much workers are saving for retirement through the plan
- Savings to employer match—the proportion of participants who save enough to capture the full employer matching contribution
- Asset allocation—whether participants have a diversified retirement portfolio.
You also may want to also seek feedback for your workers. Examine:
- Worker satisfaction—how do they perceive the retirement benefits and your efforts to promote retirement security?
- Worker use of information, education and advice—what kind of support do workers consider most valuable? What delivery method is most effective?
- Worker ability and desire to be actively involved in retirement saving—substantial differences exist among workers with respect to savings. Gauge who your workforce is and where they are at in terms of savings to best target your efforts.
Take advantage of all the resources the Foundation has to help you on our Financial Education/Retirement Security page.
Senior Communications Associate at the International Foundation