Creating retirement buzz
Project: Retirement plan campaign
Jurisdiction: Milwaukee County, Wis.
Agency: Select Committee on Deferred Compensation
Vendor: White Plains, N.Y.-based Great-West Retirement Services
Date: December 2007
To motivate employees who had not committed to using the Deferred Compensation Plan to save for retirement, Milwaukee County, Wis., officials offered a “fee holiday” from the second quarter of 2007 through the end of the year. During the holiday, the plan waived administration fees — which average $20 and 0.24 percent of the account balance annually — for all employees so more of each contribution went into the employee’s retirement account.
To promote the fee holiday, county officials worked with their retirement plan provider, Great-West Retirement Services, to develop a communications campaign using e-mail, posters, newsletters, direct mail, and the plan’s Web site. The campaign’s bee theme encouraged employees to take advantage of the “free-bee” and to “bee free of fees.” “We felt that a sizable portion of eligible employees were on the verge of enrolling in the plan; they just needed a little extra motivation,” says Stephen Cady, chairman of the county’s Select Committee on Deferred Compensation. “We hoped that with strong, creative support, the fee holiday campaign would be the tipping point that drew them in.”
As a result of the campaign, enrollment increased 46 percent in the third and fourth quarters of 2007 compared to the same period in 2006. And, because of that success, the county extended the program into 2008, increasing enrollment 14 percent in the first quarter and 116 percent in the second quarter compared with the same periods in 2007. “The ‘Bee free from fees!’ campaign showed that a compelling offer delivered with a solid marketing program can actually exceed your expectations,” Cady says. “The campaign hit all the right notes, and the results speak for themselves.”
Now, approximately 70 percent of county employees participate in the plan, but the county would like participation to reach 100 percent. With more participants, the county can negotiate lower fees, and the plan can offer a more competitive investment option lineup, helping employee recruitment and retention.