One of the challenges of being in the benefits field is persuading people to take action. We want them to participate in an annual health risk assessment, exercise, get their children vaccinated, save for retirement . . . the list goes on and on.

Watching the political conventions this summer reminded me of an important strategy when trying to persuade others to take action, not only in the political arena, but also regarding their benefits.

During the conventions, did you notice the reaction the crowd gave little-known people who told personal stories about their lives? People got to their feet. They cheered. They cried. Crowd reaction to these individuals and their testimonials frequently trumped the reaction to other speakers—even well-known politicians—sharing cold, hard facts.

Stories—especially when they are shared by the persons who are part of the story—are a powerful communication tool that’s typically underutilized when it comes to benefits. Stories are effective because they stick in our brains—statistics don’t.

[Financial Wellness in the Workplace – A Prescription for Prosperity]

Experts tell us our ancestors didn’t have access to huge data sets; they learned from examples. Our minds aren’t primed to heed the advice embedded in numbers. Stories are persuasive because we tend to imagine ourselves in other people’s shoes.

[Financial Stress and the Workplace | Benefit Bits Video]

Download this new information sheet for tips on how testimonials and other strategies can help your organization boost the retirement security of your workers and plan participants: Ten Ways Behavioral Economics Can Boost Retirement Security.


Pat Bonner, Ph.D., CEBS

Associate Director, Content Support at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Favorite Foundation service/product: Articles and reports on how to promote financial literacy and retirement security in the workplace.

Favorite Foundation conference/event moment:  Any opportunity to meet and chat with members of the International Foundation and ISCEBS, hearing about their most pressing issues, how we are serving their needs, and ideas for future projects.

Benefits related topics she can’t get enough of:  financial literacy, retirement security, health care reform and benefits communication

Personal Insight: Pat brings a genuine curiosity and passion to her work as well as other parts of her life.  Her interest in personal finance is guided by a heart-felt concern for others, tempered by years of academic training. In her spare time, Pat enjoys learning about people in other places and times through travel and almost any media providing an historical perspective.

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