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Are your employees ready for retirement? 6 smart steps

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in Centerpiece,Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

by Rick Unser

Retirement PiggybanksHow many of your retirement-age em­­ployees are just hanging around so they can receive benefits and collect paychecks, simply because they can’t afford to stop working? Dealing with an aging, financially unprepared workforce is a reality that should concern employers.

The percentage of people who expect to retire after age 65 has risen dramatically in the past two decades (see chart below). Health care costs for em­­ployees older than 65 are more than double that of employees age 45 to 55. And while the statistical rate of work-related accidents does not in­­crease dramatically for employees over age 65, when incidents do occur they are more severe and cost more workdays.

So it’s in employers’ best interests to improve the retirement outcomes for their employees by creating a culture of retirement readiness. Here is a six-step plan:

1.  Conduct a company retirement readiness assessment

Find out how many employees in each age group participate in your retirement plans. If you see pockets of low participation, create campaigns that speak directly to them.

2.  Evaluate your plan design

Change anything that doesn’t encourage participation. Examples: Shorten the waiting period for new hires to enroll. Automatically enroll ­­employees so they have to take action to opt out of the plan. Raise the contribution level at which you enroll employees. Build in regular, automatic contribution increases.

3.  Communicate to change behavior

You need to communicate differently with a 25-year-old than with a 62-year-old. The older worker doesn’t need to hear about the benefits of a company match. If you’re looking to change behavior, make it easier. For example, call a meeting to explain how to enroll, and then let ­employees check a box on a card so you can enroll them. Don’t make them do it themselves later—they may never do it.

4.  Offer retirement income solutions

Show employees how to convert their retirement savings to retirement income. Most of the education around retirement plans revolves around saving, investing, diversification and growth of money. Start talking about how employees can make sure their nest eggs will last throughout retirement. Also, educate employees about annuities, the benefits of bonds and other investments that can convert to income.

5.  Be strategic with company matching dollars

Maybe your organization has always offered a 100% match on the first 2% of income that an employee contributes to the plan. How about offering to contribute a 25% match to the first 8% that the employee invests? It will cost your company the same while encouraging the employee to save more.

6.  Measure constantly

Designing a plan and a strategy isn’t a one-time thing. Measure your success at least annually to determine if more employees are participating in your firm’s plan and if they’re investing a greater proportion of their incomes. If not, change your strategy again.

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Author: Rick Unser is vice president of Lockton Investment Advisors in Los Angeles.

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{ 1 commentsῂ read them below or add one }

Stephen W September 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Find a good company to administer your retirement plan! I switched my plan to Steidle Pension Solutions http://www.sps401k.com two years ago after a bad experience with my payroll company handling our plan. I could never get answers to my questions and was never able to talk to the same person twice. Now that Steidle handles my plan, I am always able to get fast, intelligent answers to my many questions. The administration of the plan is clear, items are taken care of efficiently, and Keith and the staff are very friendly.

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