Tailoring education at the workplace

Sean Jordan

By Sean Jordan
Sean Jordan is Head of Emerging Client Management for the Workplace Solutions unit of MassMutual.
Posted on Jul 24, 2019

Measure twice, cut once.

Anyone who does custom work – a carpenter, tailor, mason or financial advisor – knows that you have to get the specifications right, at the start of any project. That typically entails taking measurements, checking site maps or simply having an in-depth conversation about a customer’s needs.

It’s essentially the same process for ensuring that a retirement plan is working as effectively as possible. For instance, many employers share a common goal of increasing participation in their company’s 401(k) or other defined contribution plan. But how that is actually achieved can vary significantly as the plan’s relationship manager needs to understand the variables before making a recommendation.

Sometimes, a conversation about education can quickly get off track if the focus shifts to tactical solutions without a real discussion about participant needs. A dialogue about available education days or resources before a deeper discussion about the makeup of the employee population is jumping the gun.

In reality, the right solution can take many forms, from group seminars and individual meetings at the workplace to connecting with employees through a marketing campaign and redesigning how the plan works. None of those solutions will be effective in a vacuum.

The measurements begin with a conversation about a strategic approach to driving greater participation in the employer’s retirement plan and ultimately improving employees’ financial wellness. The relationship manager and potentially the plan’s financial advisor need to meet with whomever is responsible for making decisions about the employer’s plan to understand goals and objectives. It starts with a few key questions:

  • What are we trying to mutually achieve?
  • What’s the objective/goal?

If the goal is to enroll more employees, the relationship manager may propose a strategy that involves on-site education, one-on-one meetings or both to reach people face-to-face. Other educational resources may be available as well, including webinars, online training sessions or promoting greater use of MassMutual’s mobile app.

What works best depends upon the makeup of the employee population, which leads to more questions and fact-finding.

  • Who are the people we’re targeting for more education?
  • Where are they located?
  • Do they work the same shift or different shifts?
  • Does everyone speak the same language?
  • Do some workers speak English as a second language?

How education is delivered often depends upon how many locations an employer has, how many employees there are, where they’re situated, and the type of work employees perform.

For instance, construction workers or others that perform their jobs outside an office environment may require special tools and resources to engage. A webinar or online training may make the most sense to enable these employees to engage in training when they have access to online resources when it’s most convenient for them.

Employees who work second or third shift may also need special consideration. Moreover, a highly diverse group of employees may present multiple languages. MassMutual can help bridge language barriers by providing multilingual educational specialists and other resources.

What type of retirement plan does the employer sponsor?

The latest retirement plan designs include features in place such as auto-enrollment and auto-escalation. Not only do those features help drive engagement and savings, they also allow MassMutual and plan sponsors to create measurable benchmarks for participation and savings rates.

Beyond measurement, automatic features also allow for the targeting of certain groups. For instance, MassMutual has developed targeted solutions to reach specific audiences such as working mothers, Spanish-speaking employees, as well as different groups of people spread across a region.

A targeted approach helps to ensure the right resources are being deployed to connect with an employer’s workforce to help make sure they are on the path to retiring on their own terms. It’s a proven method that can yield better outcomes for your plan and its participants.

MassMutual’s scientific approach to identifying the right mix of tactics enables each employer to accomplish specific goals. The result is a mutually agreed upon strategy and execution plan that is quantifiable, measurable and includes clear benchmarks for success.

So when it comes to educating employees in the workplace about saving for retirement, start with a measuring tape rather than a cookie cutter. Only then can your organization obtain a tailored solution that will truly be effective.