We’re so proud to announce that 2 of our clients, Johns Hopkins University and the State of Rhode Island, won 2023 Eddy Awards for communications campaigns that our talented team helped them create.
Segal Benz worked with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to help them communicate a simplified plan design for their retirement plans that would help their participants plan effectively for, and live well in, retirement. Here’s how we achieved this.
JHU has a diverse audience of nearly 38,000 participants, including both actively employed and former employees. By simplifying the retirement program, JHU reduced the number of plan recordkeepers from 6 to 1 and the menu of investment options from more than 300 to 33. This change allowed participants to access their JHU retirement plan accounts, make investment and beneficiary changes, and review their total plan balances all in one place.
By paring down the menu of investment options, following industry best practices, and offering a focused selection of carefully curated funds, JHU was able to lower costs for plan participants.
While restructuring their retirement plans, JHU seized this opportunity to engage participants more holistically in their retirement planning. Over the course of a year, they focused on “moments that matter,” finding ways to strategically integrate messaging into their benefits communications to maximize awareness and engagement. To do this, they embraced a digital-first communications strategy, sharing detailed information on their benefits website. They then used a mix of streamlined communications, including emails, intranet posts, and slimmed down print pieces, to reach a range of participants with different needs. This multi-media approach was designed to ensure that they reached all participants to help them understand what was changing, how the changes would affect them, and what they needed to do. In addition to overall broad messaging, JHU used targeted messages to notify participants who needed to take specific actions, including those with spousal waivers, loans, required minimum distributions, and other systematic payments, without confusing the larger population.
The State of Rhode Island’s Office of Employee Benefits wanted employees to designate their beneficiaries for 5 different benefits administered by 7 different providers—including their defined benefit, defined contribution, deferred compensation, health savings account, and life insurance programs—but they lacked a central place where employees could easily make these changes. Plus, many employees didn’t understand what a beneficiary was, why it was so important, and what their options were. So they sought our help to simplify the entire process.
Our team helped them consolidate all the information about designating a beneficiary for each program and made it accessible to employees in one location on the State of Rhode Island’s employee benefits website. So that employees wouldn’t be discouraged by barriers to this information, no firewall or login credentials were required for access. Then, we helped the State of Rhode Island develop specific step-by-step instructions, by provider, outlining how employees could make changes.
The State of Rhode Island also wanted to promote their updated website and streamlined processes. We collaborated on a campaign that would bring more awareness to the importance of naming a beneficiary—the Pick Your Person campaign with the tagline “The choice is yours. The benefits are theirs.” The campaign used a multi-media approach that included a new web page dedicated to naming a beneficiary, with instructions for each benefits program, a brief video focused on the importance of designating a beneficiary, a home mailer, FAQ, emails, and pay stub announcements.
During an online focus group that followed the beneficiary campaign, the State of Rhode Island asked participants if they had taken action to pick their person. More than 80% of those participants had designated their beneficiaries as a result of the campaign. Additionally, the campaign received rave reviews from employees and the vendors that administer their programs. The State of Rhode Island was also honored for their campaign as a Municipal Marvel by the New England Employee Benefits Council at their 2022 Best Practices Awards Conference.
The P&I Eddy Awards were created over 25 years ago to identify and reward best practices in providing investment education to defined contribution plan participants. The awards are judged by an independent panel of plan sponsors and consultants. Awards are given out in 6 categories: plan conversions / 403(b) consolidations, financial wellness, plan transitions, pre-retirement preparation, ongoing investment education, and special projects. They’re broken down by corporate employee size and/or type of firm. Entries can be submitted as joint (plan sponsor and service provider), plan sponsor only, or service provider generic.
Learn more about this year’s awards at Pensions & Investments Eddy Award winners.
We’re proud to work with organizations that value their people. If you want to learn more, we’d love to talk.
Laura Hensley, Senior Writer and Editorial Manager, is an award-winning writer and advocate for the reader and works with some of our largest clients.