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National 401(k) Day Brings Retirement Planning Problems to Light

September 7, 2012

American workers' retirement confidence is at an all-time low, so industry experts are using National 401(k) Day as something to celebrate not just on one day, but all year long.

This year's Sept. 7 kickoff date "is a great trigger event for plan sponsors to have the conversation of how to get the most out of your 401(k)," says Chris Augelli, vice president of sales operations at ADP Retirement Services. "But it's not a one-time event. It should be an ongoing dialogue."

The 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute says only 14 percent of the 1,262 respondents believe they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement. With so many Americans worried about saving for retirement, using National 401(k) Day as a starting point to encourage workers to participate and save more makes great sense, Augelli says.

The Plan Sponsor Council of America created the event about 10 years ago to help employers promote retirement savings education. While the Chicago-based PSCA creates an education campaign each year, several service providers have created their own tailored programs.

ING U.S. Retirement created a mobile game app this summer and is using it in its campaign called "Getting in the Game." It's available through the App Store, and is a game designed to help understand investment and retirement planning strategies.

"To have successful savers, we have to change our approach," says Lisa Margeson, ING U.S. Retirement's head of marketing for corporate markets in Braintree, Massachusetts. "Plan sponsors need to look beyond sending general communications to the masses. They need to engage participants when and where they want to talk, learn and act."

This year, ADP is segmenting its message to address workers' needs at four different stages in their life, Augelli says. For workers just starting out in their 20s to 30s, ADP's message stresses the importance of getting started and getting the maximum contributing match from employers. ADP encourages workers in their 40s to step up their savings rate and to start calculating how much is needed in retirement. Workers age 50 and up should stay focused and if necessary, take advantage of rules allowing these participants to contribute more, or catch up to a higher level. Workers in the last stage—over 60—must determine whether they are ready to retire or work longer. Budgeting their annual retirement spending is also a priority, Augelli says.

"Having a targeted message works," Augelli says. "If you are too general you tend to lose your audience."

Patty Kujawa is a writer based in Milwaukee. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

Workforce Management, October 2012, p. 4 -- Subscribe Now!