Data and Research

PANC 2013: Employee Engagement Strategies

Connie Weaver of TIAA-CREF explained the science behind employee engagement, the cornerstone of successful retirement outcomes. 

By Alyssa Huntley | September 12, 2013
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At the PLANADVISER National Conference, Connie Weaver, executive vice president of TIAA-CREF, began her keynote talk by explaining that despite the many decisions plan sponsors face in programs, regulatory responsibility, plan menu and other areas, advisers cannot forget the many decisions participants face when thinking about retirement. Employee engagement is key in getting participants to face these choices and take action. “They should be making decisions, becoming a lot more aware of where they are, what they know, what they don’t know, who they can trust, how to get advice, and we’ve seen a lot of evidence that shows that if these steps are taken early on … the outcomes will be fundamentally different,” said Weaver.

Weaver said that providers, advisers and sponsors need to work together to keep participants their main focus. “It’s really a cooperative view,” she said. ”"It’s an ecosystem, where if you think about the goals of the plan sponsor, the goals of people like me who are the provider, the goals of folks like you—both in a consultant capacity and an advisory capacity—[are] all revolving around that end user.”

When creating and implementing an employee engagement program, you must take five steps:


  1. Understand the customer’s needs;
  2. Segment the customer base into groups based on behavioral characteristics;
  3. Draw on analytics and data;
  4. Use that data to create an engagement program; and
  5. Measure your results.


Weaver stressed that advisers need to understand their customers before they can tailor an engagement plan for participants. “Spend a lot of time matching the data of what people are doing with behavioral capabilities,” Weaver said. Look at both qualitative and quantitative information because understanding those needs will help when segmenting the customer base. Weaver added, “The words we use, the approaches we have, it’s all about meeting people where they are in their lives, where they are in their circumstances and what their needs are, and then starting the journey from there."