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401k Plan Education is Worth the Effort

401k Plan Education is Worth the Effort

401k plan education is a driver of success for most 401k plans.  401k plan education requires a strong focus on communication. This is especially important when an employer maintains a multi-cultural workforce.  Steff Chalk, Executive Director of The Plan Sponsor University (TPSU) interviewed program attendee, Niquanda Purifoy, at the conclusion of a TPSU Program held on the campus of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ms. Purifoy, is the Benefits Manager, at a food service company where she is a member of the Retirement Plan Committee.  Her employer has approximately 725 employees and many of the employees speak either Burmese or Spanish as their first language. Learn how this firm has successfully bridged the communications gap with all benefits for all employees.

Full Transcript Here

Hi, I’m Steff Chalk and we’re here at Marquette University where we’ve just completed a TPSU program, and I’m here with Niquanda. Hello, Niquanda.


And we had talked about a lot of different things in our program today. And when we were talking about what’s working, what’s not working, we got into some very interesting conversation with regard to education, so that’s why I’ve asked Niquanda if she would share some information with us. Is it okay if I ask you some questions?


Okay, great. And could you tell us a little bit about you and the company and how you work with the retirement plan.

Okay, sure. I’m Niquanda Purifoy. I work at Palermo Villa, Inc. as the benefit manager. I’m also a part of the 401k committee. We have about 700 to about 750 employees, and we have a really interesting employee base. Most of our plant production workers, English is not their first language.


Palermo’s, they produce frozen pizzas, and like I stated, we’re located right here in Milwaukee.

Okay, good. And then we talked a little bit about education in today’s program, specifically when we were talking about what’s working and what’s not working, and a lot of people had ideas around education, but you brought up an interesting point about once someone communicates, is there really been education that’s taken place? Could you share that with us please?

Sure. As I stated just a little bit ago, we have an interesting employee base. We have employees that speak Burmese. We have employees that speak Spanish and these folks come here from their countries, and they don’t understand financial wellness. They don’t understand finance period. And so to explain something as complicated as 401k’s to someone that has no knowledge, doesn’t know what that even means, you have to get someone that’s from their walk of life or understands their language.

And so what Palermo’s did, which I think is really awesome, is they provide not only employees that speak the languages, so Burmese, Korean, and Spanish, but they’re also employees that understand the benefits. In Burma, 401k is probably a nonexistent word. What is that-

They probably don’t have a 401k there.



They don’t know what that means. To have somebody understand that and be able to break it down in their language is very important.

Sure, and there’s probably no word for retirement as we know it either.

Exactly. Exactly. A lot of the employees, what they state, they come here to the country, to the States to work, and they eventually want to go back to their country. And they don’t have a retirement system.

So it’s somewhat of a cultural gap first-


… before they even get to the communication part.

You got it.

And then how do you find that you’re able to … what’s the best way that you can bridge that gap for them?

We do a lot with the … for instance, for our Burmese group, we have an individual that is from their country, and she’s been here living in the States for years, so she understands. We may say, “We need to communicate. We’re going to start a match. We’re ending our all enrollment.” And she will say, “Well, we don’t have those words, but what I can say is this, this, and that and they will understand it.” And she has actually gotten quite a few of them to participate in the plan just by her understanding what’s important to them and trying to equate our retirement plan to fit their needs.

Okay, so starting at a base level to bridge that gap first-


… bring in the right person-


… and then let them translate it.

You got it. You got it.

And as a result of being here today, is there anything you’ll change when you go back to your office?

I think the one big thing that I learned today, and you may say, “Well you should’ve known that,” but to customize communication. I think it’s so important, as I talked about the differences … the language barriers and cultures … but even within those cultures, there are still differences. There’s people that’s older than need to retire earlier, or younger folks that actually they’re on their phones and they understand. So just customizing the education to fit their needs and not a one-stop shop. One big meeting may not fit the needs for everybody.

Good. That’s a great piece of advice. Okay. Well, thank you very much.

Thank you.

Appreciate your time.

No problem.

And that concludes our program today from 401k TV. Thanks for watching.

Steff Chalk

Steff Chalk

Managing Editor at 401kTV
Steff C. Chalk is Executive Director of The Retirement Advisor University, a collaboration with UCLA Anderson School of Management Executive Education. Steff also serves as Executive Director of The Plan Sponsor University and is current faculty of The Retirement Adviser University.
Steff Chalk

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