Pensions, 401K, and IRAs – Oh My

HR Professionals today are often faced with a veritable “Babel” of retirement savings plan names/types. Variants for not for profit organizations proliferate. It almost takes a full-time Financial Planner to understand the many possibilities and pitfalls. Many employees expect HR Managers and Benefits Specialists to take them by the hand and lead them through the forest and past the wolves who would take their money. Many employees are scared of making mistakes and/or admitting their ignorance, and  ignore the subject on into the years just prior to retirement. YOU and your staff must strive to: achieve acceptable levels of knowledge about plans offered by your organization, learn the support services offered by your plan providers, become truly conversant in “retirement speak”, work with providers to properly educate employees, and then monitor employee sentiment and concern about the results as part of ongoing organizational analysis.

The many impacts of the recent recession include pension plan revelations and funding fiascoes all over the map. Employers need to choose and maintain well designed plan choices, and to be sure that employees of all ages are aware of and comfortable with same. If you are in a Health System, ask Corporate to educate you and your peers from other facilities, and/or your benefits specialists. If independent, seek out sessions on pensions at local or national HR Meetings. If you are adventurous, attend one of the seminars put on by associations of pension plan administrators and providers (San Francisco and Chicago have these annually). The investment of rational amounts of time and money in educating: board members, the C-suite, HR Management and staff, and staff (yes, including those who might not now be eligible) will pay off in many ways.

Listen carefully for references to pension plan quality, education, and perceptions in exit interviews, as well as in periodic surveys of employee opinion.

I always look for “silver linings” in bad situations. The recession, housing crash, pension funding problems, and bear market  of late have, to a great degree, forced the average employee to finally care about retirement saving sooner. HR Professionals need to seize the moment and change our knowledge and effort in this arena permanently.

Post by Bill Moore

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>