Plan Sponsors Ask…

By October 25, 2017

 

Q: We are looking for better ways to reach our employees with messaging about our 401(k) plan. Of course, we want to help them understand why they should join and save more. Is social media effective for this?

A: It is effective for a variety of uses related to 401(k) plans. Corporate Insight (workplaceexchange.corporateinsight.com), which provides competitive intelligence and user experience research for financial services, has a few suggestions. For example, try varying the media depending on the message. For general information and building dialogue, they suggest Facebook; for succinct video, a YouTube channel can be effective; and for concise announcements, they prefer Twitter. Communications that include links to articles and resources can give readers more information if they want it, without boring those who don’t. One of Corporate Insight’s key ideas: Dive right in. And whatever you do, don’t create social media pages that will remain dormant — stagnant pages give a negative perception.

Q: Some of our employees have told us they look forward to the day Medicare takes over all of their health care expenses in retirement. Others are concerned because they understand they will still have health care costs once they retire. We want to help employees prepare. What should we do?

A: You’re right that there is a lot of misunderstanding about what Medicare will and won’t pay for retirees’ health care. Your 401(k) plan is a great tool for employees to use to save for these expenses, and the 401(k) meetings are a good time to discuss this topic. First, employees need to know how much they may need to save for health care expenses. According to Fidelity, the average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2016 is expected to need around $260,000 to pay for their health care in retirement.1 That may be more than your average 401(k) plan participant has saved in total. By helping employees understand the need, you may be able to motivate them to save more in the plan. AARP has a tool that can help. Their health care cost calculator, What’s Your Magic Number?, allows employees to predict their health care costs in retirement. AARP’s website (www.aarp.org) also includes information to help people understand the costs they may face, ways to save for them, and how they may reduce them by staying healthy.

Q: We’re noticing that some of our near-retirement employees are not retiring when we thought they would. We have younger workers waiting in the wings to move up, but we donít always have a spot for them. Is it just our company?

A: No. In fact, Bloomberg recently addressed this trend2, stating that nearly one in five Americans over the age of 64 continued to work at least part-time during the second quarter of 2017. This is the highest percentage noted on the U.S. jobs report in at least 55 years. Some continue to work because they want to and are physically and mentally able. Others simply can’t afford to retire. As an employer, the actions you take today may help younger employees avoid staying in the workforce only because they need the money. Stay on top of trends in 401(k) plan design and communication, and make sure your plan advisor does too. For example, auto enrollment and auto escalation can encourage more saving. Using a stretch matching contribution strategy can also encourage a higher contribution rate. And a quality default investment, like a target date fund3, can help too.

 

2  http://tinyurl.com/FidelityRetHC.

3 Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire, Ben Steverman, July 10, 2017.

4 The principal value of these funds is not guaranteed at any time, including at the target date.