Driving Employee Engagement: Lessons from the 2017 SPARK Forum

by on Nov 10, 2017

The topic of how to drive engagement among defined contribution plan participants is one of the most prevalent conversations in the retirement plan industry today. It is also a topic that pervades both our Retirement Plan Monitor and Retirement Plan Monitor – Institutional research; employee engagement resources was the topic of our October RPM I Report, and our August and February RPM Reports focused on firms with interactive, personalized and engaging resources. Employee engagement was also a prevalent theme at this year’s annual SPARK Forum , where Corporate Insight’s Andrew Way gave a presentation on the topic. Here are three key conference takeaways:

1. Make it easy. When it comes to getting participants to save for retirement, recordkeepers are competing with participants’ other, often more pressing financial obligations. But they are also competing for attention—across diverse digital platforms filled with distracting stimuli. Therefore, retirement websites should present key information to participants immediately, concisely and clearly, and make it easy for them to act. For example, firms should present key retirement readiness data on the participant site homepage, provide actionable portfolio recommendations and allow them to make suggested changes directly from the page.

2. Make it motivating. Given the competition that recordkeepers face, firms should incorporate elements of gamification to motivate participants to act. For example, firms can offer peer comparison features to tap into peoples’ competitive spirits and introduce challenges, such as Principal’s Take5 Challenge, where participants are entered to win a Bluetooth speaker if they complete action items like signing up for a webinar or designing a beneficiary.

Wells Fargo’s participant site homepage’s Retirement Income Estimator embodies both of these practices. It clearly communicates whether participants are on track, provides actionable contribution rate suggestions and includes a peer comparison feature. It also allows users to quickly act on any proposed contribution rate changes. Notably, the firm caps savings rate increase recommendations at 15%, believing that higher suggestions could instill a sense of hopeless in participants and discourage action.

Wells Fargo Participant Site Homepage Retirement Income Estimator

3. Make it personalized. Firms should leverage participant data to provide targeted outreach, as communications tailored to participants’ financial situations and demographics are typically more compelling and likely to drive engagement than general broadcast campaigns. For example, Fidelity’s participant site homepage provides a personalized selection of educational content based on participants’ retirement portfolios and life stages, and T. Rowe Price’s participant site Account Dashboard provides contextual messaging throughout the page, encouraging participants to take actions based on their specific portfolios.

T. Rowe Price Participant Site Homepage Personalized Messaging