SURVEY SAYS: America Saves Week

March 3, 2014 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Last week was “America Saves Week.”
By PS

I asked NewsDash readers, does your company do any employee retirement savings education during the week, and what can your company do better to encourage employees to save for retirement?

The vast majority (85.2%) of responding readers said their companies do not do anything coinciding with America Saves Week. The rest were split between those whose companies do a significant education campaign during the week and those whose companies only provide a few communications.

When asked how they feel about the “America Saves Week” initiative, more than half (51.9%) said it is a non-event, for the most part. Nearly half (48.1%) said it could use more promotion to make people aware. Nearly 15% of responding readers feel it is a good initiative, every effort helps, and the same percentage said it would be better at a different time of year. Seven percent indicated the initiative doesn’t do much to further its cause.

Half of respondents reported their firms could do better at providing more employee education or more targeted education to encourage employees to save more for retirement. Thirty-five percent said adopting automatic enrollment would better encourage their employees, and 31% chose “increase salaries” as something their firms could do to better encourage retirement savings.

Twenty-three percent each selected “provide the opportunity for one-on-one professional advice,” “adopt automatic deferral increases,” and “provide a company match or a better company match contribution in our retirement plan.” Nearly 8% indicated they feel their companies do all they can do to better encourage retirement savings, with some commenting that employees just do not respond. One respondent suggested “be a liaison between the retirement provider and employees (i.e. allow changes to retirement contributions/percentages within our intranet system rather than having to go to a different web portal)” as something his or her company could do better.

The verbatim responses showed the initiative could use more promotion. A couple of readers said their firms used it for a big campaign. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “Every little bit helps, and as an HR director, I find it to be very helpful to have a new ‘angle’ to use in our plan communications.”

Verbatim

I would have sent an email about it if I hadn't found that a key link on the website wasn't working!

 

Every little bit helps, and as an HR director, I find it to be very helpful to have a new "angle" to use in our plan communications. It may just be my reading of the survey question framing, but I feel like there was only one positive response, and the rest largely negative (or neutral). The burden shouldn't be on America Saves Week to make it work, but on us, as plan sponsors, to take the initiative to look for opportunities to help our workers do a better job of saving overall, and not just saving for retirement.

 

It is difficult for every business to be able to promote something like America Saves Week at the same time due to differing business needs/requirements. This could be a public campaign (publicity would help - this is the first I've even heard of it) but our company never has a "time" during the year to promote such things. We never could even join in on the old 401(k) Day in September. It was 5500 time and a hundred other things on that day. This is one of those feel good ideas someone has (like all those ridiculous .gov ads) but one which doesn't actually "help".

 

We pretty much do most everything noted in #3 except automatic enrollment and automatic deferral increases. However, with a small employee population and a very generous match & employer contribution, we have no eligible employees who do not participate in the plan. We do trainings periodically, including offering 1-on-1s with our independent consultant. These are very popular and there are always people that cannot get an appointment, so my only suggestion is to hold these events more frequently.

 

Needs more awareness.

 

Apparently I keep my head in the sand: this is the first I've heard of "America Saves Week".

Verbatim (cont.)

We are participating in ASW this week with a theme of Financial/Retirement Fitness. Employees are encouraged to go to their 401(k) website and use retirement planning tools this week. If they do, they are entered into a drawing to win up to 50 shares of company stock. We have participated in ASW for the past few years and it is a very popular event at our company.

 

It is the responsibility of individuals to prepare for their retirement, not the company's. Until individuals take that responsibility it will be an ongoing issue. When did we decide the company owed it to us to help us retire?

 

I haven't seen anything in the mainstream media about this. If I didn't work in benefits, I would be totally unaware of it. So it’s not being promoted well.

 

I had no idea that it was America Saves Week, until I read it in my NewsDash! I think more education could help, but there will always be a subset of people that will not save unless forced by auto enrollment.

 

America Saves Week is a feeble marketing attempt to help people save for retirement. It does not get any attention and most people are not even familiar with the term. It should be better managed or just drop the program all together and stop wasting time and money.

 

Haven't you been following the news, the gub'ment is gonna do it for me. And, just like my health care it's gonna be free. Ain't it great.

 

Honestly, I wasn't really aware of ASW until a couple of years ago. I think a lot of its outreach had traditionally been focused on the individual saver, and I hadn't appreciated the role that we, as an employer, could play in helping our workers save more by leveraging the communications tools and messaging from that campaign to supplement our own. This year our 401(k) provider also got involved, and that made the messages even more powerful. If you've not gotten involved, you should. You owe it to yourself - and your participants! ps. You can find all this information (and still get involved!) at www.americasavesweek.org.

 

NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.

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