Tips from a mileage junkie: Check your retirement readiness scoreboard

Working on my third coffee, I was anxious to board my flight. I kept an eye on the clock while watching the list of standby passengers mushroom. Growing impatient, I fixated on updates to the flight status. I just wanted to get buckled in and on my way. Of course, I couldn’t complain too loudly. I did this to myself.

I could’ve been home three hours sooner if I’d taken a direct flight. But, nooo, I needed to get my miles! I needed that coveted “elite” status so I could board first, gain entrance to some dusky airport lounge and get my hands on hard-fought mileage freebies. I had become a mileage junkie.

Points-obsessed mileage junkies have rules

They always take the longest flight. They select multiple connections. They only take out-of-the-way routes.

Maybe you’re reading this post from an airport lounge gulping your third venti latte, still waiting to board your “mileage run.”

Frequent flier tracking, visualization of reward and a keen awareness of points needed for the next status upgrade, clearly motivate behavior. Goal systems that credit, monitor and create awareness compel action. They influence us in powerful ways.

Feedback impacts behavior

Think about wearable commitment devices like Fitbits. Many of us keep these real-time, personal wellness scoreboards strapped to our wrists 24/7. We know when we need to get up, hop on the treadmill or make a few laps around the office at lunch. We make every effort to hit our activity goal before we hit the pillow for the night. We track steps, sleep and nutrition.

We get on track, stay motivated and visualize a healthier future self because instant feedback nudges us to more informed decisions and, ultimately, better outcomes.

It works with saving decisions and outcomes, too

According to a recent Corporate Insight Survey, retirement plan participants recognize the importance of income projections. Almost 60 percent said it’s very or extremely important to have access to one on their retirement account homepage.1

Participants get that access when they log in to Retirement Wellness Scores show estimated retirement income replacement, and they’re motivational. After we started providing personalized scores and the related Retirement Wellness Planner, 30 percent more participants increased deferrals.2

Scoreboards spark action and momentum.

Plan sponsors want a scoreboard, too

Participants have had access to their personalized Retirement Wellness Scores for a while.

Now, plan sponsors are also able to see – at a glance, all the time – how their participants’ overall scores fall into red, yellow and green categories. They can also see how targeted plan design changes could drive plan improvements.3

The plan sponsors I meet with offer resounding enthusiasm for a fresh, fluid, innovative dashboard focused on their participants’ retirement readiness. They can easily access plan information that helps them understand the success of the retirement plan and the readiness of participants, all on a next-generation platform where a few clicks produce instant feedback.

Let’s all get on board

Because I know the thrill of boarding first and noshing on an upgraded box lunch, I will be the very last person to stop you from squirreling away frequent flier miles. I will, however, be the first to encourage you to get on board with in-the-moment resources focused on driving meaningful retirement plan outcomes and powering critical participant engagement.

No more sifting through mountains of data to understand the success of your retirement program. No more wondering if popular plan design features like automatic enrollment could improve your participants’ prospects of retirement after years of service.

Today, there’s a better way, and it begins with a real-time portal to your participants’ retirement readiness.  Predictive functionality lets you see the impacts of simple plan enhancements. You have a direct route to immediate awareness focused on helping you make vital decisions about your organization’s retirement plan.

See for yourself

The next time you book that indirect flight for the mileage points or take another lap around the office to get your steps in for the day, think about what motivated you to take those actions. Chances are pretty good that immediate feedback delivered the right nudges for you to achieve your best outcome.

For now, sit back and relax. See for yourself the online scoreboard that could motivate you to help improve your participants’ retirement outcomes.

Wheels up! And let us know what you think.


1Corporate Insight participant survey, January 2016.

2 Principal, number of deferral changes in 2015 vs. 2014 in 401(k) and 403(b) plans.

3 The advanced modeling planner will be available for most, but not all, defined contribution plans. If it doesn’t turn on for your plan, contact your service team any time for plan-specific review and consultation.

Affiliation Disclosure

This document is intended to be educational in nature and is not intended to be taken as a recommendation.

Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company a member of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.

© 2017 Principal Financial Services, Inc. | t17061605zd