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October Top Advisor By Participant Outcomes (TAPO)

Jason Chepenik and his team interact with a high number of employees, create tremendous buzz and make positive financial change in the lives of participants

401k, TAPO, retirementThey're big on creating buzz.

Simple, Effective and Fun

The retirement plan industry has done very well with innovation—target date funds, retirement income, plan design, auto features—but not with engagement. If employees aren’t engaged they simply won’t be successful.

We created a unique, one-of-a-kind event (or rather series of events) for a client in the food processing business. The company employs 3,000 workers in multiple states, who work in a 24-hour operational environment with very low participation and low deferral rates.

Aside from English, the employer has Spanish and Creole-speaking needs. We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable with all of our retirement plan communication material, so anything printed and produced is done so in those languages.

The ultimate goal of the employees’ education and enrollment meetings is to help them take advantage of their employer’s retirement plan, and ensure they understand the importance of securing a retirement future. Also, the employer has a company match, of which many employees are not taking advantage.

Our meeting is actually billed as a “Retirement Party.”

We make it fun and positive and while we’re not actually celebrating someone’s retirement, we are celebrating the retirement plan. We go all out with balloons, banners and custom poster communications to create interest and generate excitement.

The client provides food and drinks (hot dogs, popcorns, candy—fun stuff).  We have a raffle (eggs in a crate) for employees to guess a number to win various prizes, the correct number, of course, being 401 eggs.

All giveaways are somehow retirement-related; Yeti travel mugs, coolers, beach towels, fishing rods, and the grand prize of a rocking chair. We raffled off over 30 items provided from a combination of Chepenik Financial, the vendor, and client. The grand prize winner won the rocking chair, and was so excited she almost broke into tears.

We also display payroll charts so employees can easily convert their deferral percentage amounts to dollars and see the impact to their paycheck. This simple visual makes a monumental difference in enrolling employees, and successfully drives positive results.

Overall, the Retirement Party theme is a huge success. We are able to directly interact with a high number of employees, create a tremendous buzz and, I believe, make a positive financial change in their lives.

In the end, we had more than 8 percent of the employees take action, which is significant considering this plan has yet to introduce any auto features and does not have the opportunity to provide one-on-one meetings.

However, the company experiences an average employee turnover rate of 30 percent annually, so these types of events and efforts must (and will) be ongoing.

Jason K. Chepenik, CFP, AIF, is Managing Partner with Winter Park, Florida-based Chepenik Financial.

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