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Industry Intel > Signature Awards > 2023 Signature Awards - Overcoming Obstacles



2023 Signature Awards - Overcoming Obstacles

Workplace communication programs must address, and potentially overcome, a wide range of perception biases, environmental constraints, and informational barriers in conveying complex, and yet important issues. Overcoming these obstacles – whether it be in communicating retirement plan issues, trying to change contribution/investment behaviors, or even addressing corporate culture shifts related to the retirement plan – can be considered a success even if only a small percent of the population acts. This category is designed to acknowledge communications designed to, and successful in, overcoming, those challenges.

1st Place – Sonepar USA with Charles Schwab Retirement Plan Services

Sonepar USA is a B-to-B distributor of electrical, industrial, and safety products and related solutions with 8,600 employees in 400 locations across the United States. A new digital training hub was launched aimed at engaging all employees, including hard-to-reach warehouse employees and drivers (logistics staff). The intent was to provide easy access to wellness resources and benefits for financial wellbeing.

Overall employee engagement was high, but logistics engagement was extremely low. Sonepar wanted to find a way to get information in clear view of employees to increase their engagement. To accomplish this, the company used a “test and learn” strategy during 2022 to determine if print communications were still valuable to connect staff with digital resources and virtual events. They enlisted support from their training, marketing, and HR departments and the North American President for a top-down message. The communications included a webcast on the value of help/guidance from the plan’s provider, emails, Yammer (inter-company social network) messages, print, custom made jigsaw puzzles with "Put Some Prep in Your Step" theme in lunchrooms, floor decals, banners, table tents, QR codes, and a digital scavenger hunt guiding people to the new learning hub. The scavenger hunt included a quiz inviting people to explore Schwab’s website to find the answers. It introduced competition among employees to drive engagement.

Sonepar’s campaign was a success based on these results: 1,230 employees registered for the April advice event with a 75 percent attendance rate. Seventy-one percent of attendees in the August financial wellness month event came from groups that were provided both digital and print communications and attendance by logistics staff more than doubled. The HR web page had a 325 percent increase in views during this month. Logistics web engagement increased from 18 to 33 percent, a 15 percent increase from January 2022. Sonepar used multiple communication techniques, providing wellness points as incentives for engagement of their population. Their use of gamification with creative puzzles, a scavenger hunt, and Yammer contest showed that their creative approach was effective, making them rise to the top.

2nd Place – Trek with Transamerica

Trek Bikes started in a small Wisconsin barn in 1976, but their founders always saw something bigger. Forty-six years later, Trek is on a mission to make our world a better place to live and ride. They have 3,870 employees in 249 locations. Trek wanted to educate employees about tools and resources available to them and how they could monitor their progress of retirement income for both the 401(k) and ESOP plans.

They developed the “Right Components to YOUR Retirement” campaign using bike terms and imagery. The tools used to communicate were email, newsletters, slides, videos, and a poster. The Trek employees took action.

There was a 56 percent increase in participants who used the online outlook tool and visits to the plan’s web page increased five percent from the prior year. The average deferral rate increased 1.9 percent, Roth deferrals increased 22 percent, and accounts registered increased 121 percent over the prior year. Trek’s campaign resonated with employees and it won because of the use of many types of communication methods effectively leveraging their industry’s language familiar to their employees to explain retirement concepts.

3rd Place – Schneider National, Inc. with Principal Financial Group

Schneider National, Inc. is a provider of truckload, intermodal, and logistics services. They have won awards for their freight technology and innovation. They have 16,000 employees and 250 locations. Schneider National’s goal was to engage active savers showing the ease of digital tools and resources, especially the mobile app for truck drivers. By getting employees to use the tools the company hoped to increase online usage, raise use of the mobile app by 15 percent and the Retirement Wellness Planner by 21 percent.

The methods used to communicate were an intranet article, emails, a contest and raffle, a custom fuel topper with a QR code located where drivers fill their gas tanks, digital signage on TV screens, a poster, and direct mail featuring a truck horn sound when opened. All images were of the company’s trucks and drivers. Various tag lines enhanced the driving theme, such as, "It's okay to toot your own horn," "Put the pedal to the metal on your retirement!" and "Got your ears on?"

Based on the following results it’s obvious that the campaign made an impact on participants. Unique app users increased by 32 percent, double the 15 percent goal, and 43 percent used the Retirement Wellness Planner, again double the goal. Twelve percent changed elective deferrals in the mobile app with a 5.4 percent average deferral rate increase. The judges chose Schneider National as a winner because they used a clever, sustained trucking theme that fit their targeted audience with clear and concise materials, which yielded strong engagement results. Honk for Schneider National’s success!