Guide Offers Best Practices Insights

January 27, 2009 ( - At a time when plan sponsors are doubtless looking for some creative suggestions, a new guide offers some best practices insights.

The new best practices guide tells the stories of how—and why— The Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Securityቈ remain committed to employee benefits in the best and the worst of times.


“Great benefits are one of the keys to happy, productive employees. In our business, happy employees are the key to sustained growth in any economic environment,” said Bill Roark, CEO of Torch Technologies, one of The Principal 10 Bestቈ.

Selected by an independent panel of benefits experts, The Principal 10 Best Companies have found ways to balance the need for strong benefits with the need to control costs (see Principal Announces 10 Best for Employee Financial Security ).  The new guide, The Formula for Success, showcases the fundamental best practices that help the savvy organizations withstand financial twists and turns and give them a competitive advantage.

The guide, available at no charge at , offers employers and their financial professionals:

  • A benchmarking chart for comparing their benefits with those of The Principal 10 Best Companies and national averages
  • Interactive checklists that can help companies fine-tune their benefits programs
  • Case studies that describe how The Principal 10 Best Companies overcame the universal challenges faced by employers  

The Principal 10 Best Companies is a national program that recognizes small- and medium-size companies that excel at giving their employees a financial edge. Entries for the 2009 recognition will be accepted beginning February 1, 2009.

Companies do not have to be clients of The Principal to enter.  For more information,

Along with the case studies in the new guide are the following insights:

What can you learn from 1st United Services Credit Union ?

  • Before you spend money on new benefits and services, look in your own backyard. Find out what's already available through your existing benefit providers.
  • Benchmark your company's benefits against those of The Principal 10 Best Companies.
  • Look for government resources—such as retirement education tools from

What can you learn from A.Y. McDonald ?

  • Benefits can help with staffing challenges in good times and bad.
  • Working closely with union management can help avoid layoffs.
  • Low turnover leads to a more experienced employee base—something customers notice.

What can you learn from CENTRIA ?

  • Automatic enrollment can boost participation.
  • Automatic deferral increases can help employees take full advantage of the match.
  • Lifecycle funds will help employees feel more comfortable about investing.

What can you learn from Jewelers Mutual ?

  • Look at how employees use the benefits. Do plan designs, deductibles and networks help—or hinder—employees?
  • Focus groups can show how employees might react to benefit changes.
  • When your company absorbs cost increases, tell employees! You'll boost morale and receive some well-earned appreciation.

What can you learn from NJ Sullivan ?

  • Benefits can boost productivity, as well as employee attraction and retention.
  • Small companies can use benefi ts to compete against big organizations for top employees.
  • Total compensation statements can be eye openers for employees.

What can you learn from NORCAL Mutual ?

  • New employee follow-up interviews can catch potential problems—including benefit issues—early.
  • Benefits can help put small companies on an even playing field with big corporations.
  • Enrollment time is a great opportunity to ask for feedback on benefits.

What can you learn from North Island Credit Union ?

  • Setting the auto enrollment deferral at the level of the maximum company match helps employees take full advantage of the program.
  • Auto enrollment can make retirement plan administration easier.
  • Immediate vesting encourages younger employees to start saving sooner.

What can you learn from The Spiratex Company ?

  • Automatic tools—like auto enrollment, auto deferral increases and lifecycle funds—can help overcome employee inertia and boost participation.
  • Some retirement plan providers offer one-on-one guidance at no cost.
  • Address employees' concerns head-on: if they're worried about market turbulence, bring in an expert to allay their fears.

What can you learn from SAE International ?

  • Switching to a standard plan can offer big savings—and easier administration.
  • Wellness programs cut health care costs over the long term.
  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs) may offer free wellness resources.

What can you learn from Torch Technologies ?

  • Employees who own part of the company have a greater interest in its success.
  • An ESOP can help attract and retain the best employees.
  • Employee ownership means greater control and security for employees.

More information is availabe at no charge in the guide