Good Communication May Help More Participants Meet the Match. Survey after survey seems to reflect the increasing number of retirement plan participants who are taking advantage of employer matching contributions to help them save more for their post-working years. Plan design changes and more targeted communication programs are largely to thank for the increased uptake in matching contributions, according to an article in InvestmentNews.
A report from recordkeeper Alight Solutions cited by InvestmentNews showed that 80% of participants contribute enough to meet or exceed their employer matches. Age, salary, and tenure all played a role. That said, some groups contribute below the match, usually due to financial circumstances or inertia. Lower-salary and shorter-tenure employees tended to fail to meet the match, according to the Alight report.
Interestingly, the way plan benefits are communicated may impact whether or not employees meet the match. Some don’t have access to email, for example. Besides email, InvestmentNews cited one-on-one meetings with the plan’s financial advisor as an effective method for getting employees to boost their contributions to receive the match. Good old print communications methods, such as postcards, may also prove to be effective as a reminder or initial point of contact to reach employees about the match, too. Personalized, targeted emails can also be an effective method. And of course, repetition — following up with the same message via multiple points of contact — can only help to reinforce the message and spur employees to improve their contributions to gain access to the match.
That’s something for plan sponsors to think about — how communication impacts employees’ willingness and ability to contribute enough to the plan to achieve the match. Do your employees have access to email to receive the information you’re sending out? Are those messages and campaigns targeted appropriately for participants’ age and stage of life? Either way, do those messages need to be reinforced with other methods of communication, whether they are printed materials that are sent to participants’ homes, or meetings with the plan’s advisor, or quarterly lunch and learns, for example?
Every employee population is different, with varying demographics and needs. It’s important for sponsors to account for that when considering how best to reach their participants with key messages about plan benefits, including how to augment their savings by gaining access to the company match. To be sure, other factors play a role, including employees’ age, tenure, salary and individual financial circumstances. But adequate communication to support and enforce the importance of taking advantage of employer matching contributions can only help participants by prompting them to take steps to save more for their future, thus increasing their overall retirement readiness. That’s good for participants and sponsors alike.
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