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COLLECTED WISDOM™ on Employee Education and Participation

This archive contains not only the most current material on the topic, but also older items that are still relevant, provide background, perspective or are germane to the topic.

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Rethinking Participant Education - Creating Independent Investors

Summary: An advisor's bottom line or sales strategy should never be the driving force behind participant education; the needs of the participant should always take the main stage. Participant education should empower participants and give them the tools and information they need to successfully plan and save for retirement, but how?

Source: Ekonbenefits.com , March 2015

Engaging the Next Generations in Retirement Savings

Summary: The challenge in addressing the savings deficit is complicated by the fact that employee education and communications strategies used by plan sponsors and consultants in the past to draw employees into the plan are not likely to resonate with Gen X and Gen Y. This white paper identifies some distinguishing characteristics of Gen X and Gen Y and suggests strategies that plan sponsors may want to adopt to engage younger workers in retirement savings today so they can achieve retirement readiness in the years to come.

Source: Calamos.com , March 2015

What Plan Providers Should Bring to Communications

Summary: Retirement plan sponsors wanting to step up participant communications should make sure their providers are in tune with the latest trends.

Source: Planadviser.com, February 2015

Gender-Specific Retirement Education Fills Void

Summary: Employers have a critical role to play in helping women save for retirement, and research suggests women are open to receiving information from their employers and more likely to take advantage of investment tools, programs and education when they're offered.

Source: Benefitnews.com, January 2015

Why All 401k Employee Education Will Soon Be Online

Summary: Many experts believe that 401k employee education, in its current form, does not work. Writer believes that it is just a matter of time until all employee education migrates to the Internet and provides eight reasons.

Source: Benefitnews.com, January 2015

A Guide to Communications/Participant Education

Summary: DC plans are most successful when participants understand their choices and are empowered to take action. As a plan sponsor, you must transform complexity into simplicity, and fear into action. Yet, you are faced with many communications challenges; because participants crave simplicity, but DC plans are inherently complex. Though communication can be difficult, the benefits offered by a successful communication program outweigh the challenges.

Source: Nagdca.org, December 2014

Retirement Communications: Emerging and Future Trends

Summary: Four important trends are emerging as providers rise to meet the challenge of delivering more personalized, contextual and interactive communications to plan participants -- segmentation, channel optimization, data integration and management, and metrics.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, November 2014

Three Ways to Increase Employee Participation in Your 401k Plan

Summary: Helping educate your employees about the benefits of a 401k plan, and in the process debunking common plan myths, can go a long way towards getting more employees to enroll. But there are other ways you can help increase participation too. Article takes a brief look at three of them.

Source: Mossadams.com, October 2014

Low Grades for Benefits Education

Summary: With a new survey finding only a third of employees happy with the level of benefits education provided by their employers, experts offer ways HR leaders can better inform their workforces about making the best benefits choices for their needs.

Source: Hreonline.com, September 2014

White Labeling DC Plan Investments May Offer Advantages

Summary: Among approximately 75 large employers, nearly one-quarter (24%) are currently using a white label approach to naming defined contribution plan investment options, Aon Hewitt finds.

Source: Planadviser.com, September 2014

Embracing Social Media and Mobile Technology in 401k Communications

Summary: The participation in social media and the use of mobile technology among 401k plan participants has increased exponentially. Although traditional benefits communication vehicles have not yet become obsolete, plan sponsors need to take a multichannel approach to benefit communications by factoring in social media and mobile technologies. Article provides some insight.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, August 2014

Improving Retirement Plan Participant Decisions

Summary: As a plan sponsor and fiduciary, part of your responsibility is to help your participants make better choices when it comes to their plan investments. This article reviews some of the benefits of preventing participant mistakes, what the most common mistakes are, and some possible solutions.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2014

Does Participant Education Actually Help Participants?

Summary: Does educating participants on savings behaviors and investments have an actual, measurable effect that can drive better retirement outcomes? Does it encourage employees in a sponsored retirement plan to save more, and does it help them learn more about investments and other aspects of the plan, or is it a waste of time? A survey of advisers and providers shows lack of consensus in the industry on these questions and others surrounding employee financial education efforts.

Source: Planadviser.com, July 2014

Financial Knowledge and 401k Investment Performance

Summary: Financial knowledge is critical to ones retirement security, finds a new study showing that 401k plan participants who scored higher on a test of their financial knowledge earned an additional 1.3 percentage points of investment returns annually on their retirement accounts.

Source: Nber.org, July 2014

Communication Campaigns Drive Adoption and Engagement

Summary: Studies have linked the perception of workplace benefits with satisfaction and retention. But "without solid communication efforts, employees may not understand or value even the best and most generous benefits plans," said Mary Schafer, vice president of benefits and talent outsourcing at payroll provider ADP. The best messaging is "short and sweet, using simple and memorable language," she noted. "Don't get caught up in alphabet soup. That gets confusing fast" to employees.

Source: Shrm.org, July 2014

Retirement Plan Communications: Compliance or Greatness?

Summary: If you want your retirement plan to be great, you need to work at it. Identify needs and develop a thoughtful communications program to address them. Seek feedback from employees, measure improvements, and keep at it. Don't be afraid to seek professional help, as specialized skill sets can make a big difference in effectiveness.

Source: Plansponsor.com, June 2014

The Digital Frontier: A Crucial Element in Engaging Participants

Summary: In the past, plan sponsors placed most of their attention on plan level details, including investment options, fees and other features. Now, sponsors are growing more concerned about participant engagement as it pertains to their own retirement planning. But, how does one achieve increased engagement? It is one thing to hold live orientations during open enrollment, but holding them often enough that they actually drive engagement can be cost prohibitive and negatively impact productivity within the workplace. Enter the digital participant experience.

Source: Plansponsor.com, June 2014

Is 401k Education Really Educational?

Summary: The 401k education can act has an additional foundation to help ease the nerves in volatile markets and to reinforce the need for continued savings. A broad financial education program can also get at the root of the problem of why your employees likely are not saving adequately for their retirement.

Source: 401kadvisor.us, June 2014

Retirement Plan Education -- Take It to the Next Level

Summary: Workplace retirement plan education has resonated more with the already engaged than the average employee. It is time for employers to do the hard work of educating the most difficult to teach segments of their population. This next level of retirement planning education will take some HR retirement plan professionals out of their comfort zone because it requires that they too increase their knowledge about retirement planning.

Source: Shrm.org, May 2014

Why 401k Investor Education Doesn't Work -- And How to Change That

Summary: You go to get the oil changed in your car. You wait a few minutes, and finally the guy with the name patch on his shirt saunters up and throws a grease-covered manual at you and says, "Here. Do it yourself." That's a bit like what's happening to plan participants these days. Here's your 401k and individual retirement account, a few pie charts, a menu of investments and good luck to you. Author suggests financial education is simply not working. Here's why, and how we can fix it.

Source: Usnews.com, April 2014

Creating Results With Benefits Communication -- Frequently Asked Questions

Summary: It is more important than ever that employers not only provide programs that support employees' health and financial security, but also invest in educating people and supporting them to make good decisions. Benefits account for almost 30% of total compensation spending. An effective communication program helps your company make the most of its investment.

Source: Benzcommunications.com , April 2014

How to Reach Participants and Boost Engagement

Summary: Participants are eager for guidance on saving and investing for retirement and 67% of them expect their employer to play a role in providing it. Although many sponsors offer formal advice programs, other outreach efforts can be even more powerful, particularly when they take into account both how and where participants like to receive information. Plan sponsors and others are exploring communications strategies and channels to engage participants more fully.

Source: Ssga.com , January 2014

Rethinking Defined Contribution Communication and Education

Summary: How can plan sponsors do a better job of reaching employees, communicating the advantages of a DC plan or any employee benefits program? Knowing how employees think about their benefits and what triggers them to learn more is crucial to effective communication. Recognizing what vocabulary employees understand and how they organize their thinking is critically important. This paper explores how to better engage participants through communication and education and create more positive retirement savings outcomes.

Source: Dciia.org , December 2013

Secrets of the Highly Effective Retirement Savers

Summary: How Americans feel about the process of saving for retirement has a direct effect on their actions and success as savers. That is one of the key findings of BlackRock's annual Retirement Survey, released today, which revealed that the most successful retirement savers have certain psychological and emotional attitudes related to the actual process of saving that drive them to put more money away for retirement.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, November 2013

Coming Soon From a 401k Plan Sponsor Near You: A New and Improved Focus on Participant Education

Summary: There's a new policy statement debate that sounds strikingly similar to the IPS debate. It's consistent with the current evolution going on in the 401k arena -- and it might just give employees a better chance to meet their retirement goals. It's called the Education Policy Statement (EPS).

Source: Fiduciarynews.com, October 2013

Sample Education Policy Statement

Summary: A 401k plan Education Policy Statement contains high level objectives and describes potential methodology for achieving those objectives. It is intended to assist the plan sponsor with implementing, monitoring and evaluating a proactive participant education program.

Source: Abgil.com , October 2013

Reinventing Retirement Education in the Workplace

Summary: Retirement education in the workplace is entering a new stage where smart automatic features play a prominent role and where every aspect of communications is being transformed by the web and mobile devices. As a result, retirement education is becoming more focused on helping workers take action and make wise decisions at key points in their lives.

Source: Vanguard.com, September 2013

PepsiCo Uses Data-driven Approach to Retirement Education

Summary: Educating employees about opportunities through an employer-sponsored retirement plan still proves a difficult task. Chad Ryan, director of retirement plans for PepsiCo, has taken a committed and data-driven approach to helping PepsiCo's 100,000 U.S. employees retire securely.

Source: Benefitnews.com, September 2013

Over Half of Employers Use Social Media for Internal Communications, Survey Reveals

Summary: According to the survey from Towers Watson, 56 percent of employers currently use various social media tools as part of their internal communication initiatives to build community. Social media tools can be effective in creating a sense of community and employee engagement, but an employer's efforts must be tailored to the particular needs of the organization.

Source: Bna.com, June 2013

How Employers Can Foster Retirement Savings

Summary: Employers have more influence than they probably realize in creating a secure financial future for their employees. Here are five key ways an employer can help foster a community of savers for retirement in their company.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, May 2013

The Massive Failure of 401k Education

Summary: 401ks aren't perfect; but not broken. It's the 401k operators -- employees -- who lack the understanding and motivation to use them successfully. Unless 401k education is fixed, 401k's will continue to provide too little retirement income to too many Americans. 401k education started wrong and changed little in 30 years. We need adult-education experts to help fix it.

Source: Dennisackley.com , April 2013

Three Ways Employers Can Improve Benefits Communication

Summary: Any employee benefit program will better meet its objectives if an employer communicates about it effectively. And perhaps no other employee benefit plan requires as much careful attention to employee communication as a 401k. The need to communicate effectively with employees regarding 401k plans is heightened by the fact that employees may react negatively to plan limitations and restrictions. So what can employers do to improve their benefits communication?

Source: Thompson.com, April 2013

Directory of Retirement Education and Communication Firms

Summary: Are you having as hard of a time as we do in finding independent retirement education and communication firms? To solve the problem, we have put together this follow directory. Download it at no cost and if you know of a firm we missed, let us know about them.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com , March 2013.

Targeting Generational Issues in Retirement Education

Summary: Beyond the general education about how to much to save and how to invest, retirement plan participants have issues at different life stages that need to be addressed -- there are many issues that are not "one size fits all."

Source: Planadviser.com, March 2013

Eight Ways to Make Your Participation Education Plan Rock

Summary: Since retirement plans are designed to give participants a vehicle that helps them save and prepare for retirement, they need to be accompanied by an education plan that compels them to take action and make decisions -- not collect dust. This article provides some participant education best practices.

Source: Principal.com, January 2013

How Can Employers Encourage Young Workers to Save for Retirement?

Summary: Workers under age 35 have the lowest 401k participation of any age group. Failing to save for retirement at a young age means missing out on compounded investment earnings that can substantially ease the burden of building a nest egg. This brief reflects preliminary results from research positing that young adults' distance to retirement may discourage them from saving, and it tests what types of communication tactics might be most effective in promoting saving.

Source: Center for Retirement Research , March 2012

401k Education: Is Experience the Only Good Teacher?

Summary: For too many investors, though, it's only when they're older and "experienced" do they finally understand the missed opportunity of taking correct action in their younger years. If lack of experience is the disease, then a good 401k education program is the cure.

Source: Benefitspro.com, March 2012

The Four Critical Elements of a Successful 401k Plan Education Program

Summary: The key to disciplined 401k education is education for both the employees and the plan sponsors. Unfortunately, education, despite its importance, often falls to a lower priority status in the busy-ness of business and life. Article presents four key components of a successful 401k plan education program.

Source: Fiduciarynews.com, February 2012

Strategies to Get Nonnative Speakers Into 401k Plans

Summary: Proactive strategies boost 401k participation by nonnative speakers. Midsize employers have found ways to increase their 401k plan participation rates among employees who speak English as a second language.

Source: Businessinsurance.com, January 2012.

How to Effectively Educate Baby Boomers to Prepare for Retirement

Summary: More and more employers are grappling with how to help the Baby Boomer generation address the gap between what they have saved and what they will need to save to comfortably retire. It is a challenging problem. Here's some thoughts.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, June 2011.

Best Practices in Employee Financial Education for Different Generations

Summary: When designing financial education programs for employees, companies that keep in mind generational differences in viewpoints, learning styles and adaptation to technology build more effective programs. Every individual is unique but at the same time, generations undeniably share a world view and have their own unique group characteristics. These unique traits have implications for not only how each group learns, but how they communicate and how they like to be communicated with.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, April 2011.

The Impact Financial Education Has on Plan Participant Saving and Investing Behavior

Summary: Increasingly, participant retirement education is being evaluated with the bottom line in mind, with companies demanding that the programs they roll out to their employees actually change behavior. It is about time for us to begin to track the statistical success of these programs, to evaluate them on the bottom line numbers and to ask the tough questions.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, March 2011.

An Improved Economic Forecast Brings Out the Old and the New in 401k Education Programs

Summary: As the economy starts to stabilize, retirement plan experts say plan sponsors need to emphasize certain elements of their retirement education and advice programs to get workers back on track and saving for retirement. The first thing employers need to recognize is that employees are ready to hear the message again about saving for retirement.

Source: Employee Benefit Adviser, March 2011.

Participant Education in the Age of Technology

Summary: When it comes to participant communications, the retirement plan industry is stuck between the old methods of snail mail and email's and the new world of social media.

Source: Planadviser.com, October 2010.

How to Design a Retirement Education Program That Reduces Your Company's Legal Liability

Summary: Outlined in this article a program you can put into place that is sufficiently protective given the current legal environment. This does not guarantee you will never face a legal issue, but it offers a high degree of protection should you face legal challenges surrounding the information you provided employees to help them make investment decisions.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, September 2010.

Trends in Workplace Retirement Education

Summary: Plan sponsors want to make sure they are ahead of the curve with their retirement education programs rather than responding too late to major industry changes. To do so, they need to know the key trends in workplace retirement education and financial education.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, September 2010.

Investment Education or Investment Advice: Which Are You Providing?

Summary: How do you know if you are giving investment education or investment advice? In Interpretive Bulletin 96-1, The Department of Labor has given some of the best guidance on determining the difference between the two. Here is a summary of the most important points.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, May 2010.

401k Uptake Linked to Employer-Sponsored Education

Summary: What motivates employees to participate in and contribute to voluntary savings plans? According to a new study in Economic Inquiry, the answer lies in how regularly their company holds retirement seminars.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, November 2009.

Helping Tomorrow's Retirees Better Prepare Today

Summary: If tomorrow's retirees hope to achieve the financial security enjoyed by many of their parents, more disciplined retirement savings behaviors must be adopted and more extensive and efficient use must be made of mortality-contingent products. As the cornerstone of most of today's retirement plans, employer-based defined contribution plans are the natural point of delivery for both the substantial education efforts required to change participant behaviors, as well as for innovative product solutions to help participants mitigate longevity risk.

Source: String Financial , May 2009.

Is DC Plan Communication and Education Dead?

Summary: Now that plans can be automated to a large degree, do communication and education have roles to play? They do indeed. Getting workers into a 401k plan, increasing their savings rate, and improving their diversification through default mechanisms is not necessarily synonymous with financial security.

Source: Workforce Management (free registration may be required), January 2008.

Will Automatic DC Programs Eliminate Need for Education and Advice in the Workplace?

Summary: Given that the Pension Protection Act addresses plan sponsors' primary concerns, do we still need to offer education and advice to employees? Can't we simply auto-enroll, auto-escalate, and auto-allocate, and call it a day--or a decade?

Source: Journal of Financial Planning, September 2007.

Exposing the Myth of Participant Education

Summary: The myth that colorful participant statement stuffers and interactive web sites will turn your 401k plan participants into little Warren Buffetts by reading and interacting with them is only that, a myth. Let's be honest and finally admit it - we are failing to provide our participants with the services and choices they need to make effective investment decisions.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, May 2005.

Strategies to Discourage Employees from Opting Out of a Plan

Summary: We are going to start automatic enrollment in our retirement plan at 1% for all eligible employees. We want to discourage our employees from opting out of the plan. What are some strategies we can use to keep them enrolled?

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, February 2005.

How Can We Get All of Your Employees to Participate in Your 401k?

Summary: Employers offer a 401k plan because they want to attract and keep talented employees. So, if you are an employer and have one, why not strive to get as close to 100% participation as possible?

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, January 2005.

15 Things Every Worker Should Know About Their 401k Plan

Summary: When it come to knowing about and understanding their 401k retirement plans, most workers are in the dark. As a plan sponsor, you can correct this by being sure that everyone of your employees is be able to answer at least these 15 questions.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, July 2004.

Falling 401k Participation Rates -- Reversing a Negative Trend

Summary: So what can companies do to rekindle the desire of employees to participate in 401k plans? Here are some suggestions. Located on: 401khelpcenter.com, January 2004.

16 Ways to Boost Participation in Your 401k Plan

Summary: Some ideas that could help boost participation in your 401k plan and turn your employees into Retirement Income Consumers. Located on: Dennisackley.com , October 1999 .

How to Increase Employee Participation

Summary: It is the age old issue of how to increase employee participation in your 401k plan. We know how crucial it is to the overall success of the plan -- particularly to the highly compensated employee group. High participation also helps in creating a positive attitude towards the company and helps greatly in employee retention. So, how can you increase participation in your plan?  Located on: 401khelpcenter.com.

Internet Resources for Better Employee Investing

Summary: Most 401k plan participants want and need better investment education. Nearly all plan sponsors provide investment information of some form, but one tool that is often not promoted is the Internet. The Internet contains a wealth of free, useful and informative data related to 401k investing. Sure, there is a lot of junk also, but you can help your employees avoid these areas by directing them to high quality sites. Located on: 401khelpcenter.com.

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