Total Plan Assets: $262 million
Participants: 804
Participation Rate:  90.6%
Average Deferral Rate: 7.6%
Employer Contribution: Safe-harbor match of 100% on first 3% of contributions, 50% on next 2%; with an ESOP deferral of 5% to 8%

Griffith Foods Group Inc. helps its wholesale customers succeed in the food industry, and also applies that same level of care to engaging its workers in its Supplemental Retirement and Savings Plan. The company offers no automatic features, but with the service it receives from adviser Brian Lampsa, senior vice president at  Raymond James in Chicago, including educational presentations, workshops and one-on-one financial advice for all participants—which more than half of the 804 participants have received—the same engagement is achievable, Griffith believes.

“We find positive communications with our investment adviser about our enrollment process are more successful than auto-enrollment, where everybody is enrolled but doesn’t understand the plan,” says Sue Corbett-Florian, the former payroll/retirement benefits manager at Griffith Foods. “When we’re focusing on our employees, we want to make sure they’re engaged, that they’re acting like owners, and help them build a better future.”

Even without using automatic features, the plan has a participation rate of over 90%, an average deferral rate of 7.6%, and currently holds assets of $262 million. It averages an 87% income replacement ratio in retirement and a participant deferral rate of 7.6%, holds a safe harbor match of 100% on the first 3% of employee contributions and 50% on the following 2%, along with an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) deferral of 5% to 8%. Combining these two, participants can annually receive 8% to 9% from Griffith, plus make their own contributions. Participants’ average length of service is over 10 years; it is not uncommon for employees to retire at age 60 with enough income to last the rest of their lives.

Participants meet with financial advisers for one-on-one reviews on an as-needed basis, where topics including debt management, student debt, future home purchases and retirement needs are discussed. As an organization managing dozens of 24-hour manufacturing facilities, with participants working various schedules and ranging in age, Griffith Foods and Raymond James host annual educational meetings, in addition to scheduling webcasts during enrollment periods.

“Any employee can meet with Raymond James advisers one-on-one for free,” says Domenic Mascis, the company’s current payroll/retirement benefits manager. Mascis worked as a specialist throughout Corbett-Florian’s tenure, before taking over her role.

During the last quarter of 2017, Griffith Foods partnered with Wells Fargo through its educational campaign Retirement City, which uses gamification. The company promoted its feature to participants via on-site posters, meetings, their website and statement inserts.

Over the course of the promotion, more than 300 participants played and completed the game; web engagement increased by 14%, and deferral rates rose 11%.

“While the numbers showed [the campaign’s] success, much of the success was just being able to converse with their fellow employees about different choices they make and how that affects them,” explains Corbett-Florian. “Eighteen months later, somebody will still bring it up, so it made a lasting impression on many who participated. I think having them engage provides much more of a learning experience for them, and much better retention.”—Amanda Umpierrez

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