Plan sponsors see a growing need to use technology in retirement plan communications, with the majority saying they will increase their use of technology to deliver information to employees over the next two to three years.

Most retirement plan sponsors recognize that retirement readiness is a significant concern for employees, according to a recent report from consulting firm Towers Watson, with 78% of large and mid-sized U.S. employers saying it has become a top issue for workers. Additionally, 82% believe retirement security will become a more important issue for employees in the next three years.

Yet, many are not leveraging technology to drive retirement messages home, with 92% saying they don’t use gamification at all and 41% do not utilize mobile apps at all. The single biggest source of retirement plan communication continues to be the account statement, with 62% of plan sponsors reporting they use this method extensively.

Also see: Tech survey: What do benefit managers want?

Employers are planning to boost their investment in communications – 84% report they expect to increase efforts to educate employees on saving and investing over the next two to three years. But Robyn Credico, North America defined contribution practice leader at Towers Watson, says more thought needs to be given to the methods they will use to deliver that communication.

For example, “not a lot of employers use mobile apps and other things that younger people might relate to,” she says. “What we would suggest to employers is that they rethink how they communicate and maybe even change the method of communication to be more specific to a given population’s needs and how they respond. Don’t assume everybody’s the same and that they’re all going to react in the same way.”

The report cautions that while increased use of technology may increase the likelihood plan participants will take positive savings action, “using technology without a strategy for implementation, measuring results and refining the process does not guarantee it will result in participant engagement and behavior change.”

Also see: Tech survey: Employers hungry for improved enrollment, communications tools

A separate report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, meanwhile, reveals just how concerned employees are about their ability to retire when they want to. Before September 2008 – the start of the recession – 72.4% of workers retired either before or no more than one year after their expected retirement. However, that dropped to 49.6% after September 2008.

More than half (53%) of employer-respondents in the Towers Watson report say they are concerned about older workers delaying retirement.

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