2021
Corporate 401(k) >$300MM–$1B

Washington Gas and Light

FINALIST
Joseph Esposito
Director, Benefits and Wellness
  • Plan(s)
    401(k)
  • Total Plan Assets
    $409.3MM
  • Number of Participants
    2,389
  • Participation Rate
    94.6%
  • Average Deferral Rate
    8.0%
  • Default Deferral Rate
    4%
  • Default Investment
    J.P. Morgan SmartRetirement DRE Funds
  • Automatic Enrollment
  • Automatic Escalation
  • Employer Contribution
    100% of 4%
  • Provider(s)
    Recordkeeper: Empower Retirement; Adviser: Willis Towers Watson
  • Financial Wellness Educators(s)
    Empower Retirement, Edelman Financial Engines LLC, CommonBond

Last year, Washington Gas and Light Company (WGL) introduced a new financial wellness program, with the goal of helping employees improve their overall wellness—physically, financially and socially.

“In my role, I’m always thinking about the employees’ overall experience, and employee well-being as a whole,” says Andrea Coughlin Rowley, senior vice president and chief human resources (HR) officer at the energy provider, in Springfield, Virginia. “For me, and I think for others, I want to work for a company that cares about me holistically.” WGL wanted a way to give employees education and resources on wellness issues.

Last year, WGL tested its “Wellbeing” program with employees in its Washington Gas division—which includes about two-thirds of its staff—and the program expanded enterprisewide this January. In developing the program, WGL worked closely with the internal “resource groups” it already has for employees. These groups represent different demographics, such as a veteran’s group and a group for African American employees. The resource groups get together periodically—doing so virtually during the pandemic—for fun and interesting activities beyond work, such as group volunteering, and they also serve as a liaison between the company and the employees in their demographic.

“We utilized members of the resource groups as ‘ambassadors’ to help us figure out what we should do with the program; then they helped us launch the program and get the information across to employees,” says Joseph Esposito, director, benefits and wellness for Washington Gas and Light Company.

Last year, the Wellbeing program’s group virtual meetings included a three-module series on resiliency during challenging times. Each of the three modules had a focus: on resiliency for the individual, resiliency for a work team, and how to maintain resiliency once the pandemic ends. The program encouraged a dialogue among WGL colleagues about challenges such as working at home while having kids also at home doing virtual learning. Says Rowley, “It was meant to help you build the strength to get through these unprecedented times.”

And 401(k) participants also have the option to schedule a one-on-one virtual meeting, which recordkeeper Empower Retirement offers quarterly. Those meetings cover not just saving for retirement, but broader financial wellness issues such as budgeting. “People want to ask questions about things such as ‘How do I get my budget to where I need it to be?’” Rowley says. “They want to know, ‘How do I get from Point A to Point B?’”

WGL introduced a monthly digital newsletter for the Wellbeing program last year. To make it a quick read, it’s one page and in a three-column format. Each column focuses on one of the key dimensions of the wellness program: physical, financial or social well-being. The newsletter covers different wellness topics each month and gives employees a heads-up about upcoming events, such as a yoga class.

WGL is now launching an opportunity for employees to sign up to work with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) to put together a comprehensive, individualized financial plan. Says Esposito, “We want them to have the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings, to have a blueprint to be ready to retire when it’s time to retire.”

Judy Ward

E_NOTICE Error in file footer.php at line 224: Undefined variable: tag_list