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Sunday, December 17, 2017
Article written by Cathy Howley

The 401(K) Dilemma: How Managers Can Attract More Employees to Join

Does the future look bleak for American workers?

A recent research statistic revealed that one quarter of eligible workers choose not to contribute to the employer's 401(k) plan. Less than 10% contribute the maximum. (Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

So if the employees aren’t interested in participating, how do you encourage them to get excited or even enthusiastic about saving for the future?

A workplace retirement plan can mean the difference between a costly retirement and an enjoyable one. But it’s a hard sell, especially if retirement is 25 or 30 years away.

Research also shows that education and communication have a solid role for increasing participation and saving rates. The main criteria needed for successful company education on 401(k) plans are clear objectives, good targeting of messages, relevant communication (which usually means keeping it simple) smart evaluation and follow up.

In other words online education – but with a big difference.

Online is a medium that can capture attention in the most intimate way. After all, you are sitting just a few inches away from the computer screen, so you can make the space really work in your company’s favor. Try doing that with a brochure or paper presentation.

- With online you can use a voiceover and graphics to simplify complex issues and financial information for all levels of employees.

- You can encourage interaction and involvement through a quick quiz or light hearted questions.

- You can easily include calculators that clearly demonstrate the value of contributing to a 401(k) plan over time. The earlier you start saving, the healthier your pension plan will be at retirement.

- Get the picture? Yes, why not use more of them to sell the key benefits of being part of your company’s 401(k) plan. No one wants to read line after line of dull financial text. Make the benefits animate and come to life in bold type.

The Pension Research Council at the Wharton School concluded that "the largest effect on participant contribution rates comes from raising the concentration of materials offered via the web". It also estimated a contribution rate almost 50% higher when communication was at a high level – a huge leap forward from traditional education methods.

The problems that 401(k) plans face exists around the world where saving for retirement is just as challenging. Take Australia for example. You can see some colorful examples of online pension education with voice and movement at http://www.options-strategy.com/super.htm. These examples also include automated emails after the training to remind employees of what they decided to do.

Better education and clearer communication. They’re the keys to successful online education and can go a long way to improving your 401(k) figures.
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