Business 401(k) Services / 401(k) Plan Optimization

Why it Works to Customize 401(k) Enrollment Day for Your Employees

Are your employees enthusiastic about retirement saving? Itโ€™s a funny question to ask, but the answer can tell you a lot about your 401(k) plan. The vast majority of Americans would say they prefer to work for an employer who provides them with 401(k) support (over 75%, in fact)โ€”but only half of American employees actually receive the financial education and hands-on support they need in order to make saving a real priority.1

"We as Retirement Counselors have made it our mission to change how employees think about 401(k) from day one," says John, a Retirement Counselor for Fisher 401(k). "Business owners want to see employees get excited and utilize this great benefit, so we customize the employee enrollment day experience to each employer's unique business and worker demographics."

This is how we recommend customizing the 401(k) enrollment dayโ€”and itโ€™s how we do it for every client. Take a look to see if a customized approach might help your employees get more retirement ready.

1. Before 401(k) Enrollment Day: Developing a Custom Plan

No two workplaces are exactly alike, and neither are any two 401(k) enrollment day setups. Even so, it’s common for some advisers to use the exact same enrollment presentation, regardless of the type of business they’re speaking with or the specific demographics of the employee base. Many offer their presentations in English only, or offer financial examples that aren’t relatable to most employees at a company. This “one-size-fits-all” approach can alienate some employees and make it challenging for them to understand or embrace their 401(k) plan.

“That’s why we focus on customizing our presentations for each company,” says John. “Our first step in any 401(k) enrollment is to collaborate with the employer to learn as much as we can about company culture and the employee base.” Our service team thinks about several key considerations to build an informative and impactful day that will be engaging for every employee.

  • Group Size: Is your headcount 20 or 200? Does it make sense to hold one group session for the whole company, or would it be more personal and accessible to hold several group presentations for smaller groups?
  • Job Site Dynamics: What is it like for different employees who work at your job site? Do they have open schedules? Are employees spread out at multiple job sites? How can meetings and presentations fit in naturally with their work, rather than creating a disruption?
  • Language: What languages do your employees speak? Finance and 401(k) are complicated topics; if Retirement Counselors speak to your employees in their native language, would that help them better understand their options?

2. On 401(k) Enrollment Day: Positive Energy Meets Plain Talk

“Some employees become overwhelmed by 401(k) and financial industry jargon, and an overflow of dry information isn’t going to get anyone excited about anything,” says John. “The one-size-fits-all presentations some advisers offer can be rife with technical language that doesn’t really engage employees.”

“We as Retirement Counselors are passionate about engaging groups and individuals alike, by speaking in a language employees will really understand,” John says. They do that in two important ways:

  • Group Sessions: Depending on what is determined about the ideal group size and job site dynamics, the first component of enrollment day is group sessions to walk employees through the basics of your specific 401(k) plan. We cover relevant content and answer questions designed to help employees save confidently: What does eligibility look like? Is there an employer match and, if so, how does it work? How much should employees be saving to stay on track for retirement? The focus is on empowerment: You can do this!
  • One-on-one Meetings: According to a recent study, two-thirds of employees participating in a 401(k) plan say that in-person meetings with financial professionals are the most effective way for them to communicate and make positive changes to their retirement savings.  We agree, and that’s why the Retirement Counselors also make themselves available for one-to-one meetings either on the phone or in person with every employee at every location. In these individual sessions, employees connect with a retirement expert they can trust in order to ask questions (“What is an employer contribution?”), share concerns (“Wow, I don’t think I can afford to save that much right now…”), and talk individually about their own goals for retirement (“I want to retire right at age 65!”).

3. After 401(k) Enrollment Day: Harnessing Employee Excitement

All this positive energy from 401(k) enrollment day can’t just dissipate the next morning. The next step is providing accessible resources and tools for employees to use as they continue thinking about their retirement saving strategy.

  • Planning Tools: Retirement planning tools like a retirement calculator and a tool to validate your employees’ investment strategy based on their long-term goals make it easy for employees to check back in on their assumptions about savings and the income they’ll need in retirement. In turn, it’s easier for them to update their saving strategy.
  • Help Desk: Some employees simply prefer to speak to an expert—like they might have during their one-to-one enrollment day meeting—for continued guidance. “We make it clear that after enrollment day, our service team is always available via the Help Desk for employees who need some extra help,” John says.

By energizing employees with a positive and practical 401(k) enrollment day, and empowering them into the future with accessible tools and educational resources, we set them on a path towards a secure retirement.

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