Navigating Benefits

Retirement Plan Education: How to Boost Staff Participation


  • Employees are afraid of outliving their retirement savings and investments

  • Most retirement planning happens during new-hire training, so better touch points need to be set up after that point

  • Men, women and employees of various age groups have different retirement planning needs, which is what makes education so important

Posted by January 7, 2019

You may not know it, but your colleagues might need help with their long-term retirement planning. In fact, according to the 2018 Transamerica Retirement Survey, 88 percent of workers feel that their employee-funded retirement plans are “very” or “somewhat” important compared to all other benefits. At the same time, more than half of respondents (52 percent) are afraid of outliving their retirement savings and investments.

This is a somewhat common fear; individuals wonder if they’re investing in the best funds and if they’re depositing enough money, or unintentionally making other missteps. Retirement plan education helps to alleviate those fears and can set your fellow employees up for success. If this is an initiative you’re looking to lead at your company, here’s what you need to know.

The Benefits of Offering Retirement Plan Education

How often does your organization offer retirement plan education activities? Chances are, it’s not enough. Most organizations discuss benefits during new-hire training, when individuals learn about where (and how) they can invest, though it often gets forgotten due to information overload.

Accordingly, it’s a good idea to set up regular touch points after new-hire training to not only remind your colleagues that they can invest in a retirement plan but to get them thinking about how their current investments are performing for them. For example, are their current funds making or losing money? What kind of fees are they accruing? Are they able to utilize those funds for something such as a loan or qualifying withdrawal? Should they? Your staff might be depositing money into their plans through every paycheck, but that doesn’t mean they’re educated about how they work.

There are many ways to educate your team members about their retirement planning options, such as seminars, meetings with financial advisers and HR campaigns. Think of it as an additional component to your company’s wellness program. Promoting financial wellness doesn’t mean simply providing staff with access to contributing in a 401(k), 403(b) or any other type of retirement plan; it means educating them on how to save for their retirement based on their own individual needs.

Adapting Education Techniques for Different Groups of Employees

It’s likely that you’re part of a diverse workforce, including both men and women at a wide variety of ages. Since there’s no cookie-cutter approach to investing for retirement, it’s important to support each other’s needs. For instance, the near-retirement-age employee needs to invest differently than one who’s fresh out of college. Men and women may also take a different approach, especially if there are employees who are just returning to the workforce after raising small children. And it’s not just children that are stalling their mother’s retirement savings—it’s also the gender pay gap and the fact that women statistically outlive men.

To meet the different needs of your fellow employees, invite a financial advisor to come into the workspace and offer seminars tailored to each demographic. One workshop could discuss how to strategically pay off school loans while still saving for retirement. Another topic could focus on how to catch up and save as much as possible if you started investing too late. After presenting to the groups at large, the advisor could set up appointments to meet with each attendee to discuss their individual needs.

You may be thinking that offering these educational offerings will be even more work for your organization, but that’s not the case! Once you’ve strategically planned out different financial wellness seminars throughout the year, you can sit back and relax as fellow staff members take the opportunity to learn more about what type of retirement plan options are best for them.

Hoping to discover tools and resources that can help your colleagues better manage their benefits? Explore the Employer Toolkit hosted on United Concordia Dental’s website.

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