Targeted communications and strong on-the-ground support make the difference

Read how this organization kept participants on target in their retirement goals despite challenging economic times.

The Challenge
Economic discord can be challenging for employer-sponsored retirement plans. Participation and contribution rates may decrease. Loans may even increase. It can be a plan sponsor’s worst-case scenario.

Yet, consider California-based Daughters of Charity Health System (DCHS).

Even though the 2008 financial crisis left California with some of the nation’s worst unemployment rates, a devastated housing market and the same profound economic uncertainty that has pervaded the country as a whole, the DCHS TSA/403(b) retirement plan has seen increased participation and improved contribution rates.

How, in such difficult times, could DCHS achieve such positive results? The answer rests with DCHS’ Human Resources Vice Presidents and Benefits Managers working with Transamerica Retirement Solutions and Ropes & Gray to develop targeted communications and facilitate personal interactions with plan participants.

The Solution
The DCHS Human Resources team, in tandem with Transamerica and Ropes & Gray, used targeted communications along with vigorous on-the-ground efforts to help DCHS’ population not only cope with the challenging economic environment, but drive toward a better financial future. This proven approach provided relevant information in a variety of ways:

  • Written communications as the cornerstone of the effort
  • Associate presentations to address plan features and benefits
  • Follow-up emails to remind employees and motivate them to take action
  • Outbound calls to follow up with those who hadn’t taken action
  • One-on-one meetings between Transamerica’s On-Site Retirement Counselors and TSA/403(b) plan participants

The Results
The team took advantage of the opportunity to reach, educate and motivate DCHS Associates to build a healthier and happier retirement.

  • PowerPoint presentations, along with written communications such as newsletters, posters and table tents, helped to implement a new employer match for Seton Medical Center, Seton Coastside and CNA nurses at Saint Louise Regional Hospital. Participation in the TSA/403(b) plan increased an average of more than 6% at these sites over a six-month period.
  • More than 2,200 outbound calls drove beneficiary compliance, a key client concern. As a result, TSA/403(b) beneficiary compliance increased to 79% from 45% in 15 months (April 2010-June 2011).
  • Initiatives to drive active elections into a new employer-funded DC plan for certain segments of the DCHS population—which included mailing a comprehensive newsletter, a robust schedule of presentations, one-on-one meetings, outbound emails and phone calls—resulted in active elections in the new DC plan (a key client concern) of 64% after one month, 72% after two months and 83% after three months.
  • Steadily rising participation in the TSA/403(b) plan has increased nearly 20% for all Associates over a five-year period increasing to nearly 68% from 48.6%**
  • The TSA/403(b) plan’s deferral rate of 8.98% is nearly 3% higher than the median rate reported nationally for other similar plans in the healthcare sector.

** Median participation rate for DC plans in the healthcare sector is 65%, according to Retirement Trends in Today’s Healthcare Market 2010.