A policy statement is a compass guiding the entire education program and a strategy document is a road map targeting implementation of the program, explained Mary Kay Leydon, director of participant communication and education at Lincoln Financial Group, to attendees of the Plan Sponsor Council of America’s (PSCA's) annual conference. She said both documents increase the likelihood of attaining retirement plan education goals because it helps all parties of the education program work together, focuses the investment in the education program and demonstrates the plan sponsors commitment to employee education.
The education policy statement should include:
- Overview of the plan: Basic information, including the name of the plan(s) covered by the statement, what the plan is designed to provide and some basic language about how the plan is structured (for example, it allows employees to contribute and make their own investment choices);
- Education objective: The overall strategic goals of the plan’s education program in broad statements (for example, to help participants understand the plan’s investment objectives);
- Education philosophy: The organization’s beliefs as they relate to the plan’s education program; it should answer the question, “Why do we offer retirement education;”
- Education goals: The types of quantitative and qualitative goals that may be used to measure the success of the program—not specific targets or measures, but an inventory of methods that can be used for evaluation;
- Education planning: A review of the plan sponsor's process of establishing an ongoing plan for educating employees, including a statement of how frequently the plan will be developed and key steps of the planning process;
- Education strategy: What will be covered in the ongoing education plan?;
- Results measurement: Specific metrics that will be used to evaluate the success of education plan and related campaigns; and
- Roles and responsibilities: Define responsibilities throughout the planning, implementation and monitoring process, including roles of the plan sponsor and any related service providers.
Leydon advised plan sponsors to consider employment law issues when creating the policy statement—there is a difference between targeting certain employee demographics and segregating a class of employees—and the statement should make no guarantees. In addition, she suggested plan sponsors may want agreements in place with any providers or advisers that will play a role in the education program.