Winning Enrollment Techniques and Challenges

With an average of only 43 percent participation in governmental defined contribution plans, people living longer and saving less, and retirement benefits being reduced by their employers, the importance of saving couldn’t be greater. But – how to enroll those that aren’t in the plan? This NAGDCA session discussed some innovative strategies that had significant results in increasing enrollment.

Brenda Griebert from the State University of New York (SUNY) reported that SUNY moved from paper enrollment for all individual benefits to online enrollment for all as a group. SUNY developed online tools that included information about all benefits, and required employees to review and select each benefit individually. While retirement savings was a voluntary program and employees could skip through these pages, this approach kept the plan in front of employees and increased overall awareness of the importance of enrolling. Mandatory online enrollment resulted in a 50 percent increase in voluntary contributions to the plan.

Tanja Fournier from the Irvine Water District (IWD) discussed their move to a single provider to simplify enrollment. IWD fed employee information to their provider to pre-populate basic employee data on the plan website, and added a 3 percent match for certain groups of employees. Their plan administrator also developed personalized communication for new employees describing plan benefits and informing about match eligibility. In addition, employees receive email reminders about starting or increasing contributions on their work anniversaries and at the time COLAs are awarded. IWD has seen their overall participation rise to 86 percent by implementing these simple steps.