Thanks to automatic enrollment, Illinois Tool Works’ (ITW) 401(k) participation rate hovers around an impressive 95%. Yet the Benefits team saw signs that participants were not making the most of their 401(k) accounts in other respects.
The ITW Benefits team wanted their workforce to take greater ownership in preparing for retirement by improving their financial literacy.
Employees were not taking advantage of financial modeling tools and online resources. The team wanted to drive employees to review 401(k) plan contribution rates, account balances, and investment strategies.
The project team created a five-postcard series using a simple game theme to engage employees, and their spouses, in solving word puzzles and entering an online contest.
Each postcard focused the game on a different topic, ranging from how to use investment tools to understanding the difference between stocks and bonds. The campaign drew on neuromarketing principles by leveraging creative visuals, focusing on immediate, near-term incentives and motives, spacing the campaign out over 10 weeks, and using “tiny steps” to drive behavior change — by identifying small, simple actions that lead to long-term positive change. The contest itself drove visits to the plan website to enter a key word for the chance to win prizes, which encouraged interest and invited engagement at home.
After comparing pre-campaign data to post-campaign results, ITW saw the following results:
- Account balance visits up 91% (employees actively checking their individual account balance)
- Fund election reviews up 70% (employees checking their individual investment elections)
- Contribution percentage reviews up 30% (employees checking their current contribution percentage)
- Immediate use of retirement income projection tool up 14%
- And a total of 2,815 game entries
This project won a 1st place Eddy Award from Pensions & Investments. Pension & Investments created the Eddy Awards more than 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.