Case Study: Increasing DC Plan Participation

Defined Contribution Participation


A mid-sized insurance company was struggling to increase participation in their 401(k) Plan, but the employee base was slow to change. Broadly distributed generic communications programs provided by the recordkeeper intended to boost participation had not improved contribution rates and were largely ineffective.

Our Consulting Strategies

Sibson analyzed the employee population and suggested two changes to the plan design:

  • Adding an auto re-enrollment program with a base contribution of 6% of pay – which maximized the employer match – that would require employees to actively choose not to contribute to the 401(k) plan.
  • Raising the rate for the auto-escalation program, which automatically increases employee contributions at regular intervals.

Sibson also suggested developing a more effective employee communications program that would target specific employees, tailoring the communications to match the observed behavior and group characteristics, especially for those who were contributing below recommended levels to address retirement readiness.

The Value

Implementing these more aggressive approaches to standard solutions helped our client reach its goal of increased participation [as shown in the graph]. This graph illustrates via the shift to the right that more employees will be ready to retire.

Ensuring an employee population is on track for retirement enhances an employer’s predictable workforce planning scenarios and offers a potentially smoother transition for succession.


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