Four Tips for More Impactful Participant Communications
The key to successful retirement plan participant education and communication programs? Keep them simple and relatable.
Easier said than done, perhaps. Employees are bombarded with so much information, and their email inboxes are so cluttered, how do you cut through the noise? It seems a monumental task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are four ways to simplify participant communications and help make sure participants get the message that saving more, and saving early for retirement should be a top priority:
- Make communications impactful: You only have a few seconds — and a few sentences — to grab participants’ attention. Research shows that more graphically-intense (think more charts and infographics, less words) and aesthetically pleasing communications are more likely to capture participants’ attention and increase their understanding of the message than dense, text-laden content. Consider being more creative with your participant communications and finding innovative ways to talk about the perks of your plan and how participants can use it to build that all-important retirement nest egg.
- Put yourself in their shoes: Being aware of your participants’ circumstances can go a long way when it comes to delivering more effective retirement plan communications. If your company pays employees hourly, for example, then focusing on improving day-to-day spending habits so they can free up income to set aside savings for future goals will likely be more meaningful than complex messaging about compounding and investing strategies. Consider also focusing on age- and gender-appropriate messages as well. Baby Boomers who are on the verge of retirement are going to have different priorities and needs than early-career Millennials, so it’s a good idea to tailor the messaging for each group according to their unique circumstances.
- Watch your tone: Consider removing jargon and overly complex language from your participant education materials, and replacing it with easy-to-understand and digest content that’s relatable rather than intimidating. Offer brief, relevant details rather than blocks of difficult-to-read content. In addition, experts suggest nixing stock photos of people doing cliched retirement activities like playing tennis or sailing. Instead, they say, add more white space to simplify the presentation and help create a sense of calm and trust.
- Foster financial literacy: Educating today’s employees on financial basics through financial wellness programs and retirement plan education programs is a great foundation. However, defined contribution industry observers suggest that tomorrow’s workforce would be better served by receiving personal finance education starting as early as high school. In fact, several states already have mandatory financial literacy programs.
As a plan sponsor, you can help employees understand financial basics by encouraging them to partake in your organization’s financial wellness program, or talking with their retirement plan advisor, if such resources are available. Another option to consider is delivering frequent, short communications, by email for example, that cover basic financial topics like budgeting, life insurance, tax preparation and retirement planning, and pointing employees to online resources to help augment their knowledge.
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