HR: Beef Up Your Employees’ 401(k)s

So the national savings average is…not doing so bad.

After actually going negative in 2005, the personal savings rate is up to over 4 percent for Q1 2009, the most recent quarter the Bureau of Economic Analysis has figures for.

Still, that’s higher than it’s been since 2000.

As a happy HR manager, though, your job is to be the diligent worker ant to your employees’ grasshoppers. And 4 percent is still nowhere near where we need to be—experts have said for years that you should save 10 percent of your income for a rainy day slash being too old and decrepit to drag yourself to work, and now some are raising that target to 15 percent.

What’s a worker ant to do?

According to, you’ve got three things to try:

  • Automatic enrollment. If they have to fill out paperwork to opt out, many may decide it’s easier to stay in.
  • Provide tailored information. If all your brochures talk about retirement in a decade, you’re alienating younger workers who may be more concerned about buying a home. Conversely, if all your literature mentions aggressive long-term investments, the Boomers aren’t going to feel listened to.
  • Remind them they can take it with them. There’s too much misinformation about 401(k)s out there—do you have to invest in your own company’s stock? Don’t you lose it when you change jobs? Fix this misinformation.

Anyway, any HR manager who can get their employees’ savings rate up to 10 percent or more is a superhero.