The floor is now open for nominations for the 2005 Pensions & Investments/Workforce Management Eddy Awards.
The awards recognize corporate, public and union defined contribution plans that devised the best and most effective investment education programs in several categories. Nominations are due Oct. 15.
In 2005, for the first time, the Eddys have a co-sponsor: P&I's sister publication, Workforce Management. Winners will be announced and will receive their awards at P&I's 14th Annual Defined Contribution/401(k) East Coast Conference this winter.
Entries will be accepted from plan sponsors only. The competition is open to all corporate, public and union participant-directed defined contribution plans.
Plan sponsors that have put in time and effort to help plan participants better understand their plans and to use them more effectively are urged to submit their materials for consideration. Entrants should complete a separate entry form and submit at least one example of the educational materials for each category. Entry forms are also available online at www.pionline.com/eddyaward. There is no charge to enter.
The materials submitted should have a close identification with the sponsoring company. More important, the materials should provide information and guidance for all plan participants, from new employees to high-balance midcareer participants.
Awards will be presented in five categories:
• Printed materials-initial education — includes brochures, booklets and other print pieces that introduce existing employees to investment options and plan features of a new or modified plan, or introduces new employees to the investment options of an existing plan.
• Printed materials-ongoing education — rewards efforts designed to give an additional boost to all or part of an earlier defined contribution plan investment education program or to help alter participant behavior.
• Special projects-print — allows plan sponsors to showcase special investment education and communications programs such as launching new investment options, attempting to increase overall deferral rates or encouraging participants to diversify their portfolio holdings.
• New media — recognizes the use of the Internet, intranet, e-mail or other electronic technologies to communicate initial investment education and enrollment information or to give a boost to plan participation or continuing investment education. Entries in this category should provide judges with access to websites where the information is found. Temporary user identification or passwords valid between Oct. 15 and Dec. 31 should accompany the entry. In addition, two printed copies of campaign highlights, including the home page, should be included.
• Video — entries will be accepted for initial and ongoing education, special projects or other investment education programs. Videos should be directly related to participant investment education or plan design.
Among the issues that should be included in the submitted materials: demonstrated emphasis on early and regular saving; the power of compounding; the value of matching contributions and dollar-cost averaging in building up retirement savings; an analysis of the dangers of inflation as well as a detailed explanation of risk and the relationship between risk and return; and a discussion of the value of diversification as a method for reducing volatility.
Last year, about 120 entries were received. Among the winners was Starbucks Coffee Co., Seattle, which took first place in new media. Its coffee-themed campaign won the judges over from the start: the website that contained the educational materials was ``futureroast.com.'' The judges found the site easy to navigate, and with four games that were just plain fun to play, it was bound to bring employees back again and again.
Another West Coast winner came in the initial education category for corporate plans with less than 1,000 employees. The Oakland Athletics Baseball Co. hit a home run with the judges because of its phenomenal branding. One judge noted he couldn't tell who the vendor was because everything about the materials said Oakland A's. (The vendor was Charles Schwab & Co.)
Not all employers have it so easy when it comes to campaign themes. But Harman International Industries Inc., last year's winner in ongoing education for corporate plans with less than 5,000 employees, succeeded. The audiovisual company's branding included such deft touches as microphones in tables and charts. The judges lauded Harman for creating complete and comprehensive materials that were simple, readable and user friendly.
And for special projects by corporate plans with more than 5,000 employees, the first-place finish by Fuji Photo Film USA Inc. was a snap. The project featured a camera-shaped card in Fuji silver that said, "Think ‘point and click' was easy? Try 401(k)!'' The project also held an incentive. Employees who returned the detachable postcard were entered into a drawing; one entrant from each work location won a camera. The card also automatically enrolled employees in the plan if they checked the "yes" box.