A panel attendee asked for new ideas and specific examples
that can increase participation. One sponsor treats enrollment like a health
care plan: participants have to consciously opt out, Connell said. The same
sponsor uses incentives such as raffles for those who sign up. Prizes can be
gift cards or a day off, and anyone who is enrolled is eligible to participate
in drawings, not just new enrollees.
Gates noted that a relationship manager once dressed as a
chicken and visited plan participants holding a basket of retirement eggs. Revoir
mentioned a small-plan sponsor who matched employee contributions up to 6% and
took personally every employee who did not participate, asking to be told the
name of every employee who was not participating so that he could talk to them
and find out why.
A member of the audience asked about the idea of a re-enrollment
that would default all participants into a target-date fund and have them opt
out in order to increase participant enrollment.
In a perfect world I’d
auto-enroll everyone at 10%,” Revoir said. But the key to raising participation
is getting people in as early as possible, he pointed out.
Another audience member wondered if participants would be
angry at auto-enrollment features. “What we hear from our participants is thank
you,” Ritter said, “not pitchforks and torches.” Discussions about
participation need to be framed properly.
According to Gates, MassMutual’s research on participant
viewpoints showed that auto-enrollment is popular with most employees who said
that saving for retirement was on their to-do list, and they like having
someone do it for them.