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Aimee Dodson, Movement Mortgage

Movement Mortgage takes steps to help employees shed debt

Aimee Dodson said the company wants its employees to thrive in all aspects of their lives.

When it comes to administering her company's defined contribution plan, Aimee Dodson says small improvements can lead to big numbers in retirement savings at Movement Mortgage LLC, Indian Land, S.C.

For example, she spearheaded #Loseamillion, a campaign encouraging participants to reduce their personal debt because immediate personal finance issues can affect future savings.

"If you get debt out the way, you can save more for retirement and do more charitable giving," said Ms. Dodson, whose title is thrive director. Thrive, she explained, is a corporate philosophy that encompasses personal finance, families and relationships, wealth and well-being, and community involvement.

This approach to helping participants ultimately improve their retirement savings impressed judges into voting for an Award of Excellence.

"I think focusing on personal debt is an area most plan sponsors have yet to engage other than simple workshops," one judge wrote. "This approach seems to have been much more proactive and engaging."

The campaign encouraged employees to take an online financial wellness assessment — 80% took the survey — to identify their most important financial issues, focusing on items such as credit card debt, an emergency fund and retirement preparedness. The goal was for employees to shed $1 million in debt.

To launch the campaign, the company told employees to stop working on a certain date and time so they could fill out the financial wellness assessment, which was developed by Financial Finesse. Movement Mortgage also offered a drawing in which 10 participants would receive $1,000 each for debt retirement. The company provided featured weekly videos on finances as well as workshops, online financial calculators and recorded pep talks by CEO Casey Crawford.

"I liked the all-hands-on-deck aspect of this, getting broad buy-in to make the campaign successful," another judge wrote.

With 400 locations across the country, Movement Mortgage created an intranet page so employees could post comments.

As a result, employees cut their aggregate debt burden by $2.8 million and achieved another $1.4 million in savings in 90 days.

The campaign concluded with a 2016 video of Mr. Crawford giving an animated recap and exhorting other employees to take debt-reduction action. "You are setting an example for Americans to follow," said Mr. Crawford, whose presentation was followed on the video with the names of the 10 employees who received the $1,000 company contributions.

One extra benefit of the campaign, Ms. Dodson added, was that it "created a common language" at the company about personal debt reduction.