While a tax-exempt retirement plan might look good on paper, it could likely use a little work in order to hit the right notes with employees. Aaron Friedman, national practice leader at The Principal Financial Group, provides some best practices to aid in creating a proper, effective participant education plan.

1. Draft an education policy statement. It's as important as an investment policy statement. It should clearly state the objectives of participant education, and include ways to measure progress toward those objectives.

2. Create a written plan. The plan should tie in to the education policy statement by outlining all of the tactics used. These could include educational meetings, the messages to be delivered, who performs the various functions, and a plan to review results.

3. Clearly define objectives in the policy statement, as well as the written plan. Reasonable objectives should go beyond simple plan participation and be designed to help ensure that all participants have adequate savings at retirement.

4. Hold both group and individual meetings. They are an effective way to communicate with participants, especially with tax-exempt employers. Individual meetings can supplement general information given at group meetings, yet be tailored to the specific needs of each participant.

5. Determine what you want to tell participants. You may have a particular message you want participants to hear - like how they receive a valuable benefit that's paid for by the organization. Or perhaps you want to increase participant awareness about retirement readiness. Make sure the education communication is delivered consistently, without different or conflicting messages.

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