Milliman professionals recently published the latest results of the Puget Sound and Portland Area Compensation Surveys. In this webinar, Milliman’s Larry Daniels and Lauren Busey provide current pay and benefits information within the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and social justice movement. In addition, Heidi tenBroek share ideas for effectively communicating your safe work plans, policy updates, and more.
In this Milliman webinar, consultants Lauren Busey, Heidi tenBroek, and Larry Daniels discuss results from the recent Milliman Northwest Healthcare COVID-19 Pulse Survey. The survey summarizes key actions local healthcare employers are taking to address employee benefits and compensation issues as a result of the current pandemic.
What constitutes effective HR communication for Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Boomers today? In the latest episode of Critical Point, Milliman’s Heidi tenBroek and Jill Godschall discuss how generational differences, behavioral economics, and technology are driving change in the HR communications space.
To listen to the entire podcast, click here. Also, to hear past Critical Point episodes, click here.
On May 6, the U.S. Department of the Treasury denied the application of the Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas (Central States) pension plan for benefit suspensions. According to Treasury, the plan’s proposal was fundamentally flawed in three ways. The first two reasons Treasury gave were that the proposed benefit suspensions were “not reasonably estimated to allow the plan to avoid insolvency” and were “not equitably distributed” (the plan did not explain to Treasury’s satisfaction the variations in the treatment of different classes of participants).
Poor communication is the third way the plan’s proposal failed to satisfy the requirements. According to Treasury, the plan’s notices to participants were “not written in a manner so as to be understood by the average plan participant.” Treasury explains:
• “The notices extensively use technical language without adequate explanation”
• “Critical terms used in the notices are not defined in the notices but only by cross-reference to other documents (e.g., the plan document and the rehabilitation plan document)”
• “The cross-referenced definitions in those other documents are not understandable to the average plan participant”
Few pension plans are getting the kind of attention that’s being paid to Central States. But many plans looking to the possibility of benefit suspensions in the future can take this opportunity to learn from Treasury’s issues with Central States’s application. Remember that good participant communications need to be included in your calculations.
Retirement plan sponsors are increasingly considering transitioning their current retirement plans to the Milliman Sustainable Income Plan™ (SIP). This allows them to have stable costs like those of a 401(k) plan, while providing participants with reliable, lifelong income like a traditional pension plan.
Communicating the change to a SIP, however, may feel daunting for plan sponsors. Effective communications ensure that employees understand how the SIP works, how it will affect them, and why a SIP is a stable retirement solution for the sponsor and for them. Breaking down plan concepts into digestible, clear messages is key. Using a variety of communication vehicles—meetings, newsletters, personalized projections, etc.—increases the odds of success. In fact, we’ve found employees are excited about SIPs once they understand how they work.
A short video created for employees can be one of your most powerful tools in communicating a new kind of benefit. The combination of images, written text, and oral explanations are very effective in conveying how a SIP works. It provides a solid foundation and a basic understanding that makes the detailed communications to follow more accessible. Below is a sample video created as an introduction to a SIP transition.
Note that the Milliman Sustainable Income Plan™ (SIP) was called a Variable Annuity Pension Plan (VAPP) at the time this video was produced.
A targeted approach is the most effective communications strategy an employer can implement to help employees understand their retirement plans. Milliman’s Denise Foster and Genny Sedgwick offer perspective on the benefits such a tailored communications approach can have on plan participants in this Business Insurance article (subscription required).
Here is an excerpt:
Most American workers aren’t saving enough toward retirement because they are struggling financially — often living paycheck to paycheck — and do not have the discretionary cash needed to build a retirement nest egg, experts say.
A good retirement communications and education program recognizes this and offers plan members help with such financial fundamentals as budgeting and saving.
The most effective way to communicate these lessons is with a targeted approach that takes into consideration plan members’ ages and other demographic characteristics. The messaging also should be continuous, occurring throughout the year, experts advise.
…“One of the best approaches is a real targeted one,” said Denise Foster, a principal and communications consultant at Milliman Inc. in Seattle. “It’s a lot about tailoring the message to the particular employee group…”
“In financial services, we use a lot of terms that don’t resonate with participants, and they shut down and stop learning,” said Genny Sedgwick, a principal and practice leader for defined contribution plan record-keeping at Milliman Inc. in Seattle. “People feel like they need to be the expert, and they realize they’re not. At the end of the day, participants just want you to guide them.”
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