When it comes to managing their finances today and saving for retirement, employees need your help. Challenging economic times have made it more difficult for people to save. And, according to a recent Retirement Confidence Survey, employees feel uncertain and stressed out:
- While 60 percent of American workers feel very or somewhat confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement, only 18 percent of those feel very confident. And the share of workers who have confidence has declined 4 percent since the year before.
- Plus, three out of 10 workers report that preparing for retirement causes them to feel mentally or emotionally stressed. These stressed workers feel less financially secure and are far less confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement than those who do not feel stressed.
In many cases, there's a good reason for this stress. For example, according to a purchasing power survey, an amazingly high percentage of employees who have a company-provided retirement account--20 percent--report they've borrowed from the plan to pay for such things as general household expenses, college tuition, or medical expenses or to make credit card payments.
All these facts mean that one of the most important achievements you can make is to increase employee participation in your company's 401(k), other retirement savings plans, and stock plans. You need to go the extra mile to create effective communication that:
- Educates employees on the importance of saving for tomorrow
- Increases participation in retirement and stock plan savings
- Shares information that will help employees make good investment choices
Employees welcome this information; in fact, 62 percent report they would be likely to take advantage of financial wellness education. Plus, effective communication can mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and difficult years for a retired employee. Helping employees with investing can mean that they will have money to buy homes, improve the home they have, invest in their children's education, and live comfortably after they stop working. You can actually help people build a financially secure future. That's really an incredibly powerful gift.
How can you get started? Here are three techniques that increase employee participation in savings or retirement plans:
- Simply and clearly explain how financial stuff works. (Don't assume that even the most sophisticated employees are financially literate.)
- Use a how-to approach to communicating about retirement by giving employees information they can use.
- Create video (or print) "stories" of employees describing how they have benefited from the plan--show them on screens in lobbies and cafeterias or on the company intranet.
The payoff is worth the effort: When communication works well, employees understand an issue, know what it means to them, see clearly what they need to do, and feel like someone cared enough to help them. What could be cooler than that?