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Jennifer Benz March 19, 2019 5 min read

These 2 P&I Eddy Award Winners See Serious Results with Unique Benefits Communications Campaigns

Last week, Pensions & Investments recognized the winners of the 2019 Eddy Awards at their annual East Coast Defined Contribution Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. These awards honored both defined contribution plan sponsors and providers for their efforts to educate and drive employee participation in retirement and financial wellness programs through unique and engaging communication campaigns.

We were delighted that 2 of our clients’ campaigns were such standouts in terms of creativity, engagement, and the results they achieved, that they earned prestigious Eddy Awards this year.

The Eddy Awards honor outstanding communications in a variety of categories—from 401(k) and investment education to plan transitions and preretirement preparation—with winners broken out by employer type and company size. The sheer volume of entries this year speaks to the number of organizations using innovative ways to engage their employees—and the huge positive impact employers and providers had on individuals’ financial wellness.

Check out the full list of the award recipients.

Hitachi Vantara Builds HSA Awareness

In the newly created financial wellness category, our client Hitachi Vantara won an Eddy Award for its efforts to improve understanding and usage of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

Over the years, Hitachi Vantara has focused on helping its employees make the most of their Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). But few employees who were enrolled in the UHC Consumer HSA or Kaiser HSA medical plans were taking advantage of the opportunity to potentially grow their HSAs by investing their HSA balances. At the core of the issue was that most employees were unaware that investing was an option. No less daunting was that investing was often perceived as scary, confusing, and difficult to do.

Breaking Down How It Works for Your People
When employees don’t understand how a benefit or program works, they (a) don’t use it at all, or (b) they don’t always maximize its potential. With this in mind, we helped Hitachi Vantara create an employee-facing tip sheet to explain the powerful advantages of an HSA, including how people can invest their savings to cover future health care expenses. The tip sheet used friendly visuals and simple language to illustrate the benefits of investing. It educated them about the power of investing HSA dollars, such as paying no tax on interest earned from investments, low-fee investment options, furthering the growth potential of the funds, and the fact that any time they needed the money, it was there for them to access. 

Hitachi Vantara reinforced this messaging with targeted emails:

  • Account holders who didn’t have a high enough balance to invest their HSA dollars were given tips on how to save more.
  • Account holders who had a high enough balance to invest but who weren’t investing were encouraged to consider the savings potential they were missing and shown how easy it was to get started with investing.

The company continued to drive this message home by including it in other campaigns, such as Benefit of the Month emails and highlighting the HSA's tax advantages during Annual Enrollment.

Understanding the Why Behind the Results
A month after the campaign launch, one health plan provider reported a 30% increase in the number of account holders investing their HSA dollars. What made this campaign so special and results-driven? Audience segmentation and behavioral science. Focusing on specific subsets of account holders (i.e., those who had enough saved to invest but weren’t investing), we addressed the barriers they were facing and motivated employees to take action. Messaging was clear and concise with framing such as, “It’s easier than you think.” And it included step-by-step instructions to help employees take action.

A 401(k) Challenge for All

Our second client to win an award was Synopsys, Inc., which earned a first place in the special projects category for helping its people better understand the value of their 401(k) plans through an innovative online quiz. 

Attracting and retaining talent is a key goal for Synopsys, whose workforce is split primarily between 2 large demographics: recent college grads and employees approaching retirement. The company wanted to make sure employees understood the features and benefits of their 401(k) plans—especially what set them apart from competitors’ plans. And because Synopsys employees like a good challenge, the company wanted to try a quiz approach where employees could test their own knowledge.

A Unique Path to Retirement Education
With the Synopsys benefits team open to experimenting with new media, Segal Benz developed a 401(k) quiz that challenged Synopsys employees’ financial acumen and encouraged competition among them. The goal: to help employees appreciate the 401(k) and educate them about retirement in a fun and unique way.

Above and Beyond with Results
This novel approach really resonated with employees. Nearly 25% of the Synopsys U.S. employee population participated in the 401(k) challenge, with most answering 6 out of 8 questions correctly. Following the challenge:

  • Deferrals increased by 50%;
  • Fund exchanges increased by 173%; and
  • Asset allocation mix changes increased by 190% over a similar time period earlier in the year.

The strategic use of behavioral science—specifically gamification—was the primary driver of this campaign’s success. Another significant element: Synopsys knows its audience and how to cater to multiple demographics. So, the quiz educated employees beyond the basics, covering complex topics such as in-plan Roth conversions and after-tax implications in a simple, yes-no, multiple-choice, true-false format that kept content easy to understand.

Finding a Common Theme

Your people need to be reminded of the value of all their benefits all year long, in ways that are meaningful for them. Retirement and other financial benefits are hard to navigate for many reasons, including their complexity and their impact on our future selves, which so often feels distant and removed from our current realities.

That’s why continuous communication and engagement are so crucial to helping employees and their families make the most of their financial benefits. It’s also why honors like the Eddy Awards play such an important role in our industry, spurring innovation and idea sharing across all different types of employers, addressing a variety of employee needs.

Jennifer Benz

Jennifer Benz, SVP Communications Leader, has been on the leading edge of employee benefits for more than 20 years and is an influential voice in the employee benefits industry.