Maryniw: Engage employees to increase plan participation
Those who fail to maximize their contributions or take advantage of their employer match are missing important opportunities to help ensure they will reach their goals. When combined with target date fund defaults, auto enrollment has helped enormously in getting employees started in their plans and contributing to investments that are aligned with their age and risk tolerance. At the end of 2011, plans featuring auto enrollment boasted an overall participation rate of 82 percent compared with an overall rate of 56 percent for plans without this feature.
Beyond auto enrollment, there are other ways to engage employees and increase plan participation. Plans that offer "full employees engagement programs" – i.e., those that engage employees over a period of time through multiple media, including personalized educational messages to drive particular behaviors, online learning, tools and wizards that simplify decision-making processes, one-on-one assistance, etc. – can help drive plan performance by engaging employees to make healthy planning and investing decisions.
It is important that education programs offered by providers and advisers can target individual participants to drive/encourage them to meet their retirement readiness goal. Many of the plan providers we work with employ leverage state-of-the-art technology. Information automatically included in the quarterly reports show current deferral, employer match, age, gender, salary and growth to calculate how much additional savings is needed to achieve 80 percent of preretirement income.
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