CONTRIBUTIONS: Participants in the 401(k) plan of INEOS USA, LLC, see an enviable average total contribution, equal to 19.4% of their pay going to their accounts each year. The League City, Texas, chemical company contributes 9% of pay for those maximizing the match, and employee deferrals average 10.4%.

“Most of our 2,700 U.S. employees are in the Houston area, and Houston is home to many oil and gas companies, so we do compete for talent with some of those companies,” says Pete Train, North America benefits director for INEOS. “Our company’s contributions are right in line with benchmarks in the chemical industry.”

Most INEOS employees feel motivated to contribute, too. “We have a lot of good savers,” Train says. “Salaries in this industry are pretty decent, and the generous match really gets people to the table.” On average, just 6% of employees who get automatically enrolled have chosen to decrease their deferral, while 20% have taken the initiative to increase it.

The $501.2 million plan has 3,074 participants and 93.1% participation. INEOS gives participants a base 3% contribution regardless of whether they defer, and automatically enrolls new hires at 6%, so they get the full 6% dollar-for-dollar company match from the start. Thus, new hires already see a 15% total contribution. The plan also does 1% annual auto-escalation up to 10%. Employees with benefits from the company’s defined benefit (DB) plan, which was closed to new entrants in January 2008 and frozen at the end of 2012, receive up to an additional 3% company contribution. That total contribution “is right on track for employees to be ready for retirement,” Train says.

To help employees’ financial outlook even more, in 2011 INEOS hired the employee financial education and counseling division of Ernst & Young LLP (EY). “Our pension plan was freezing, and we wanted people to understand that we still have a great vehicle that will get them to retirement,” Train explains.

Since then, Ernst & Young personal financial counselors have done about 100 on-site group workshops at INEOS; representatives also may do individual meetings with employees afterward. The company has held day-long workshops for those ages 50 and older, for example, to help them start to understand all the factors they need to consider as they approach retirement. Half-day events for younger employees have focused on topics including how to manage cash flow and eliminate debt. 

Beyond the workshops, Train says, all INEOS employees can call the EY Financial Planner Line anytime during business hours at no cost and talk to financial counselors regarding plan-specific topics like getting educated on the investment options, or broader financial issues such as their personal taxes. 

Judy Ward

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