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Retirement plans worthy of recognition

November 4, 2018

Are you proud of your retirement plan at work? Do you feel it is worthy of recognition?

Kerry Ryan, the director of employee benefits for Boston Medical Center, a nonprofit hospital offering a 403(b) to 9,000 participants, sees her plan that way.

Ryan explained: “We provide a hub of financial wellness services that offer assistance throughout our employees’ careers, for both simple and complex needs. We don’t believe that there is a ‘one size fits all’ approach to supporting employees for retirement readiness.”

Education is tailored to where employees are in their careers and how close they are to retirement. When employees are approaching retirement, the company holds a five-week retirement readiness campaign.

“We develop custom and relevant messaging for our various employee groups and are always looking for additional support programs to address our employees’ unique financial needs,” said Ryan. “All of our actions are designed to remove barriers and create the framework to enable people to have successful retirements.”

Another believer is Danna Robinson, communications manager at Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc., a supermarket chain headquartered in Matthews, North Carolina, with over 30,000 employees.

As Robinson explained: “At Harris Teeter, we are proud to employ associates who are dedicated to creating an incredible place for our customers to shop. In turn, our company is committed to creating an incredible place for our valued associates to work, and we hope our associates recognize this commitment through the benefit plans offered.”

Further, “Harris Teeter encourages all of its associates to participate in retirement savings, and the company invests in a comprehensive education program to share the importance of saving. This program includes communication through break room posters and training videos. As a supplement to this educational program, Harris Teeter also partnered with T. Rowe Price in the creation of an exclusive video which personalizes the associate experience, explains the participant’s retirement savings progress, and motivates participants to take action to improve their retirement outlook.”

There is a common thread that ties Ryan and Robinson. They both represent companies that won Plan Sponsor of the Year Awards for 2018.

Boston Medical was recognized in the nonprofit DC category (over $100 million), along with Northwell Health of Lake Success, N.Y., and TriHealth of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Harris Teeter was in the corporate 401(k) greater than $800 million category, along with Humana Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky, and Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. of Raleigh, N.C.

If you believe your company “shows a commitment to [its] participants’ financial health and retirement success,” here is what you can do about it right now (before Nov.7, 2018): Log into https://tinyurl.com/ydgmjwwl to nominate your company for the 2019 award. Finalists will be announced in January 2019. Winners will be notified in March 2019.

The nominees will need to complete an online form that asks for details about the retirement plan. Their applications will be compared with those of other nominees in nine categories based on size and type of plan.

Alison Cooke Mintzer, global editor-in-chief of PLANSPONSOR and PLANADVISER, encourages participation: “Our Plan Sponsor Award helps validate the good work plan sponsors do to help their employees achieve a successful retirement.” PLANSPONSOR magazine is available online at www.plansponsor.com.

Validation goes a long way. But that’s not all. Recognition helps put emphasis on what’s important to employees: They know they have a good plan, one of the best among peers.

If you are unhappy with your plan, reading about award winners will give you ammunition for a discussion with your employer. Read their stories here: https://tinyurl.com/yaa6zhjb.

By the way, I’m thinking of sponsoring an award to encourage this type of advocacy with those who are just starting their careers. I’d like to know your thoughts. Would it be worthwhile? Would companies help promote the award? Let me know by emailing me at readers@juliejason.com.

If you will be in New York City, do come to a presentation I’m giving on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at the 92nd Street Y. I will discuss my latest book, “Retire Securely.” Register here: https://www.92y.org/event/retire-securely.

Julie Jason, JD, LLM, a personal money manager (Jackson, Grant of Stamford, Conn.) and author, welcomes your questions/comments (readers@juliejason.com). Her awards include the 2018 Clarion Award, symbolizing excellence in clear, concise communications. Her latest book, a curated collection of Julie’s columns, is “Retire Securely: Insights on Money Management From an Award-Winning Financial Columnist.” To hear Julie speak, visit www.juliejason.com/events.