15 Sep Adopting a coaching mindset to help employees plan for retirement
Are your employees prepared for retirement? See how Cath McCabe gives tips and tricks on coaching your employee for retirement.
America may be becoming the land of the free and the home of the grey as more adults are living longer lives.
According to the Administration on Aging, the number of centenarians more than doubled between 1980 and 2013. But lifespans aren’t the only thing increasing – so are the expenses that many older Americans face.
Retiree health care costs have surged exponentially – the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) estimates that the average healthy 65-year-old man will need $124,000 to handle future medical expenses. For a healthy woman of the same age, the expected amount is $140,000.
Many of these extra years – or decades – will be spent in retirement, so it’s crucial that Americans plan to have the income they need not only to retire, but to last throughout a potentially long retirement.
Since many adults use employer-sponsored retirement plans as a source of retirement funding, plan sponsors are in a key position to act as retirement “coaches” by encouraging employees to plan ahead and help them plan for their financial security in retirement.
Engage employees early and often
We have found that employers are a trusted source of financial information for employees. Plan sponsors can leverage this trust to engage employees with a variety of programs and tools that help them understand their future retirement income needs.
A plan sponsor’s role as coach begins when employees begin their careers by providing financial education. Education can help new employees recognize the importance of contributing to a retirement plan and the benefits of saving early, as well as help to optimize employee participation in retirement programs. Education designed for mid-career employees, and those nearing retirement, can cover more complex topics as they encounter life events that require a change to their road map for retirement.
And if employees can get started earlier in their careers, there is an increased likelihood that employees will have a positive retirement experience. A recent survey among current TIAA retirees found that those who began retirement planning before age 30 are more likely to retire before the age of 60, and 75 percent say they are very satisfied with their retirement.
Coach employees through education and advice to create a retirement road map
Many Americans need help in setting and achieving their retirement goals – a recent survey found that 29 percent of Americans are saving nothing at all for retirement. It’s important to develop a retirement coaching strategy that can help put participants in the right frame of mind and offers the resources they need to establish clear retirement goals and a road map for achieving those goals.
Many people think about their retirement savings in terms of accumulation – how much of a “nest egg” they’re able to build to fund their retirement. But employers should help their employees think about their retirement savings in terms of the amount of income they will have each month to cover their living expenses. Having a source of guaranteed lifetime income can help employees mitigate the risk of outliving their retirement savings.
As a rule of thumb, most employees will need between 70 percent and 100 percent of their pre-retirement income. If employees find they are not on track to meet this ratio, plan sponsors can help identify the necessary actions to increase the chance of success. For example, employees may need to increase their savings rate. Plan sponsors can help by encouraging employees to save enough of their own dollars to get the full employer match. If employees already are saving enough to get the full match, they then should aim to increase their contributions each year until they are saving the maximum amount allowed. Many employees older than 50 also can take advantage of catch-up provisions to save additional funds.
Perhaps the most important function of education is to drive employees to receive personalized advice from a licensed financial consultant supporting the employer’s retirement plan. This is where the road map is created, with the advisor providing turn-by-turn guidance. For most employees, an annual meeting can help keep them on track.
Why is it important to “coach” employees to create the road map? Simply put, it can improve both plan outcomes and the employees’ retirement outcomes. Advice is proven to positively correlate with positive action – enrolling, saving or increasing saving or optimizing allocations. (See this Retirement Readiness research for more information). Individuals who have discussed retirement with an advisor are much more likely to “run the numbers” and calculate how much income they’ll need in retirement – 79 percent versus only 32 percent who have not met with an advisor.
Helping employees along the road to retirement is a win-win for employees and plan sponsors, even beyond the fiduciary requirements. A 2015 EBRI report found that 54 percent of employees who are extremely satisfied with their benefits, such as their retirement plan and health insurance, also are extremely satisfied with their current job. Similarly, a 2013-2014 Towers Watson study revealed that nearly half (45 percent) of American workers agree that their retirement plan is an important reason why they choose to stay with their current employer. Establishing strong connections between employees and their retirement plans may aid employers’ retention efforts.
Supporting employees on their retirement readiness journey
Once employees have a better sense of the actions they need to take, plan sponsors can provide additional support by highlighting the investment choices that may help employees achieve their desired level of income. Many employees may understand how to save, but they are far less familiar with how and when to withdraw and use their savings after they have stopped working. Offering access to lifetime income options, such as low-cost annuities, through the plan’s investment menu can help employees create a monthly retirement “paycheck” that they can’t outlive.
The peace of mind that these solutions offer can last a lifetime, too. A survey among TIAA retirees found that those who have incorporated lifetime income solutions into their retirement have been satisfied with that decision. Among the retirees with a fixed or variable annuity, 92 percent are satisfied with their decision to annuitize.
Employers also should set a benchmark for regularly evaluating employees’ progress toward their retirement goals. This will allow employees to monitor their retirement outlook and identify opportunities to adjust their savings strategy so they don’t veer off their retirement road map.
Remember the emotional aspect of retirement
In addition to the financial aspects of retirement planning, it’s important to factor in emotional considerations. Offering a mentoring program, one-on-one advice and guidance sessions, or workshops and seminars to guide people on how to navigate this major milestone could be helpful for new retirees.
For some employees, going from working full time to not working at all may be a too abrupt change. Employers may want to consider offering a phased approach to retirement that gives employees the opportunity to work part time or consult to help ease the transition. An alumni program that offers occasional reunions or other programming can help retirees still feel connected to their organization for many years after they stop working.
Employers are uniquely positioned to guide employees through the retirement planning process, from early in their careers to their last day in the office – and beyond. It’s not enough to simply get employees to retirement: Plan sponsors need to help them get through retirement as well. Establishing a coaching mindset can be an effective way to actively engage employees in retirement planning and help them see that the end of their working careers can be the beginning of a wonderful new stage of life.
See the Original Post from BenefitsPro.com Here.
McCabe, C. (2016, August 04). Adopting a coaching mindset to help employees plan for retirement [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.benefitspro.com/2016/08/04/adopting-a-coaching-mindset-to-help-employees-plan?slreturn=1472491323&page_all=1