If employees are not well prepared for retirement it should be a major concern for both employees and their employers, said Diane Swisher, senior communications consultant at Sibson Consulting.
Why would an employer care if employees are ready for retirement? They are still working for the company, earning the company revenue, you think they would want to keep them there, she said. But it may end up costing them more.
Swisher points out that longer-term employees typically have higher salaries, which costs employers more over time. Many companies have a limit on the number of employees they can hire so how do you bring new people in if you are not cycling longer-term employees out? How do you refresh the workforce? Generally, older people have higher health care expenses, so claims on the health care side of things are a [major] expense for the company.
See also: 7 habits of highly confident retirees
There is another trend where people retire on the job, which means that older employees may become less productive over time than someone new coming into the organization, Swisher said.
In a recent report by Sibson Consulting, it mentions that older workers may have increased absenteeism related to illness or injury.
Keeping on older employees may keep employers from implementing a detailed workforce plan. If older workers never retire, there are fewer opportunities for younger employees to advance within the organization. That could make it hard to recruit or retain younger employees. If employees feel there is nowhere for them to go, they will seek other opportunities, the report said.
One way to combat that is to have a comprehensive communications plan related to retirement readiness, she said. Employees need to know that the earlier they begin saving for retirement, the better off they will be when they hit retirement age.
Many employers are moving away from just speaking to employees about retirement readiness to more of a focus on financial wellness. That means talking about budgeting, insurance, saving for retirement and paying off debt, all pieces that would help someone do a better job of saving for their future.
It is important that employers understand the goals and objectives of their plan, she said. If employers dont know why they are offering a retirement plan it makes it very hard to communicate to employees why they should participate in that plan.
If you dont have goals and objectives, you dont know what to say about the plan; theres a disconnect and communications arent that effective. You dont know what behavior you want to change, Swisher said.
If employers want more employees to participate in the plan, they can design communications around encouraging participation, she said. This is measurable so an employer should be able to look back and see how well this type of communication worked in getting more employees to participate.
Another good idea is to brand any retirement communication with a company logo. Employees are more likely to read something or open mail that comes to their home if it is from their employer rather than a retirement plan provider.
If Fidelity sends a piece, or Prudential, or any of the big players, if a piece comes to their house they may think it is junk mail or it doesnt apply to them, Swisher said. Its more likely to be skimmed over or tossed to the side.
Employers also should emphasize that the retirement plan is a major part of an employees overall benefits package, she added.
Communication with employees should also extend beyond the open enrollment period or when a new employee is hired, she said. Employees may never hear about it again until there is an event; they need money or they want to take a loan to pay for a childs college education. That is a big gap between touch points, she said. Think about all the possible times you are able to communicate and communicate frequently so it doesnt get lost; it doesnt get forgotten about.
Any time a company speaks to employees about benefits, it should include something about saving for retirement, she said.
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