Who doesn’t want simpler ways to save? Just ask your retirement plan participants.

Earlier this year I had major knee surgery. I was laid up for weeks. Not easily able to attend to daily activities, I was worried about how my life would continue as before without sacrificing momentum. To say I was worried is an understatement.

But I was wrong. What quickly became evident: Our lives don’t need to grind to a halt just because we can’t attend meetings, shop for groceries or drive across town to take care of business.

Virtually all of our needs and goals can be met with the help of forward-thinking technology and a little advanced planning integrated into the fabric of our daily routines. It’s a powerful one-two punch that will keep us moving full-speed ahead, despite knee surgeries, demanding schedules and everything in between.

Dog food, happy hour and financial wellness at the speed of life

I’m getting around easily now. That first solo trip to Target® was great. But I do still grin when another 40-pound bag of dog food arrives at my door like clockwork. I don’t even have to remember to pick it up.

I’ve seen that same grin on the faces of participants who are automatically enrolled in their company’s retirement plan with annual escalation. And those who decided to use their plan’s opt-in deferral increase feature to meet their savings goals. The reason for relief? No more fretting about doing what they know they should be doing anyway.

Research supports this. Employees are wanting, waiting and eager to get a nudge toward savings. Whether employees are automatically enrolled, or they use a smartphone to text enroll while waiting for fried pickle appetizers on a Friday night, they can take steps to meet their financial goals with very little effort.

Let’s agree: We love convenience

Online retail giants like Amazon, Apple, and Zappos prove that we love convenience. So why not apply that same logic to reaching important financial goals by simplifying the process for your employees?

Only 63 percent of American workers are saving for retirement, and many are saving at desperately low levels. Just 22 percent of workers today are very confident they will have enough money saved to live comfortably in retirement.1

Offering convenient ways to improve savings habits drives better outcomes by  integrating positive behaviors into daily routines. It also helps dissolve real money insecurities in the workplace — stressors that are linked to lower productivity, increased absenteeism, and physical, emotional and mental tensions.

So let’s eliminate obstacles

Experience tells us that the time, effort and cost to hold meetings just to capture a few new participants is an obstacle in the enrollment process.

If you’re still a fan of traditional practices, that’s okay, but innovation is here, so consider these options to lower enrollment barriers:

  • Automatic enrollment – The most complete way to remove barriers of time and effort.
  • My Virtual Coach enrollment – A personalized, interactive digital experience.
  • Text enrollment2 – Great for in-the-moment and on-the-go action.
  • Online and mobile enrollment – Access any time.

Automatic plan features and technology may eliminate the need for onsite meetings and manual processes that can slow or stop momentum for many employees who just want to get in, get out and get going. This is why I’m thrilled about plan design and next-generation digital channels that deliver fresh experiences and improved outcomes.


Saving for retirement: Bring it on!

We don’t need to hit pause or sacrifice financial fitness because of obstacles. We can buy movie tickets, get groceries and save for retirement.

It took a knee injury for me to fully recognize the profound possibilities that progressive plan design and advanced technology hold for thousands of employees. They need to save, they want to save and they are waiting for their employers to make it effortless. Saving for retirement shouldn’t fall off the radar because we can’t attend a meeting, complete a form or remember to get online to increase our contributions.

Innovative plan design, intuitive participant services and engaging digital experiences can help your employees continue to meet their financial goals, even when life takes over. And it will take over. But no fear. You have the power to help your employees be ready for it — good, bad, knee surgeries and all.

I say bring it on. How about you? Are you ready to give your employees the convenient solutions they want and need?


1Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) Retirement Confidence Survey, March 2016.

2Enrollment by text message gives participants a quick way to select their contribution amount. They must still select investment options online or by phone.

The subject matter in this communication is provided with the understanding that Principal® is not rendering legal, accounting or tax advice. You should consult with appropriate counsel or other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax or accounting obligations and requirements.

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