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Industry Intel > Signature Awards > 2023 Signature Awards - Events



2023 Signature Awards - Events

Some think that “if you build it, they will come” – but plan sponsors know it takes more. Entries in this category should describe actions to maximize participation/attendance at a live meeting, event, webinar, benefit fair, virtual event, etc. along with results of the event in retirement plan metrics, participant behaviors, or any other measurement used to evaluate the impact and success of the program.

1st Place – Edward Jones with Empower

Edward Jones is a Fortune 500 firm that provides financial services to more than 8 million individuals throughout the U.S and Canada. They have 52,000 employees – 60  percent of them are women. After reviewing plan data the company discovered that their female employees were more financially stressed and contributed less to their retirement savings than the male employees. Also, it was found that more women were older than the men, thus closer to retirement. Therefore, a campaign aimed at women was launched.

The campaign took place during Women’s History Month and intended to help women increase their average deferral rates. A custom video featuring an Edward Jones female advisor was provided along with an infographic, live webinars, articles in their women's business resource group newsletter and DEI newsletter and emails were provided.

The program was more successful than they anticipated. It was felt that timing the event with Women’s History Month was critical in bringing it to the attention of women at the company. Three-quarters of women logged into their accounts, 1,711 registered for a webinar, and 1,139 used a retirement income calculator. The average deferral rate for women increased from 8.2 percent of pay to 11.2 percent with 141 women enrolled in the 401(k) plan. Edward Jones was a winner because of their use of a variety of internal resources to communicate the campaign including co-branded materials that had a clear call to action. Judges liked the use of an internal employee to communicate the event. Also, the materials and graphics were very applicable to the message and helped support the goal. All-in-all Edward Jones was able to support their female employees in becoming more financially secure.

2nd Place – City and County of San Francisco with Voya Financial

The City and County of San Francisco has a 457(b) plan to allow employees to invest pre-tax or Roth contributions to supplement the pension. The plan has 33,400 participant accounts. It was decided to leverage National Retirement Security Month to show employees how taking a few small steps today can get them closer to the retirement they envision. However, they were challenged by a 30 percent mandatory employee deferral to cover other benefits and taxes – getting employees to make an additional voluntary contribution was difficult.

A campaign was produced to create awareness of taking small steps today that can have an effect on reaching financial goals in the future. The "Small Steps, Great Strides" theme was used throughout live webinars during October 2022 and at the first in-person meeting since the beginning of the pandemic which was held at the San Francisco main library. One-on-one appointments were provided. To communicate the events an announcement print mailing was sent at the beginning of the month followed by weekly emails. A custom website was provided. Prizes were given to incentivize employees to attend events, register their plan accounts ,and solve a Codeword game.

The retirement month events were successful – 55.6 percent of emails were opened. Nearly a thousand unique users viewed 1,233 website pages, 100 people attended a webinar with 99 percent finding them beneficial, and 783 employees met one-on-one with counselors. There were 164 enrollments, 823 contribution, and 204 online account registrations. Judges chose to honor this campaign because the custom website was well designed and provided all the information participants needed, campaign components met the goals, and the landing page was a great resource for the participants to return to. Also, the Codeword game was a fun way to re-enforce learning.

3rd Place – Rolex Watch U.S.A. with Principal Financial Group

Rolex Watch U.S.A. is a luxury watch manufacturer based in Geneva, Switzerland with 600 U.S. employees. Each year Rolex holds in-person annual meetings for its employees at four of its locations and one virtually. These meetings are the primary driver of participant engagement for the year.

For 2022 the goal was to create an engaging, fun learning experience providing education on topics applicable to the journey to retirement, while highlighting the additions of Roth and managed accounts. The retirement journey was emphasized during the communications leading up to the meetings. A Q&A format incorporating plan information and industry research/data was used. Polling during presentations showcased different answers based on audience responses.

After the events plan participation increased 3 percent with new enrollees contributing an average of 7.5 percent of pay. There was a 68 percent increase in auto-increase elections, 8 percent of employees increased their deferral rate with the average rate increasing 7 percent. There was an 85 percent increase in Roth elections. Rolex U.S.A. won an award due to materials directly related to the target audience using a creative approach to education on the new plan features resulting in an increase in participation and savings rates. Overall, it was an engaging, fun educational experience through innovation.