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The real heroes of our retirement landscape

Not even rocket scientists have all the answers when it comes to making the right choices about retirement.

So says Michelle Ryan, investment program manager of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M. Ms. Ryan and colleague Rosalind Torrence, human resources benefits manager, took some time out from Pensions & Investments' annual East Coast Defined Contribution Conference last month in Miami to talk about the financial boot camp the laboratory staged in 2016 to help their already highly educated workforce on retirement. To watch their interview with P&I reporter Robert Steyer, visit video.pionline.com.

The boot camp earned Los Alamos National Laboratory an Eddy Award from P&I, one of 42 DC plan education campaigns from 38 plan sponsors and 18 different service providers recognized on March 19 for demonstrating best practices in DC education and communication. Los Alamos received a first place award in the special projects category for corporate plans with more than 5,000 employees (service provider, Alight Solutions).

We have to say it was reassuring to hear that even rocket scientists can be flummoxed by retirement choices. Lots of people struggle to get their arms around concepts such as company matches, auto escalation, health savings accounts or lifetime income — just a few of the many topics that this year's winners addressed in their outreach campaigns.

But it was even more reassuring to see just how seriously, and with such passion, all of this year's winners took their mission to help their employees stay on the path toward a successful retirement.

To get their message across, winners embraced a variety of strategies, including segmented communications that targeted specific demographics. They used everything from traditional print mailers to engaging online tools and calculators. They answered questions via one-on-one meetings, webinars and fairs. Some also used humor or a fun retirement party to soften a potentially scary subject — will you have enough money to live on in retirement — and bring people to the table.

As the sponsor of the 24th annual Eddy Awards, we're grateful for these professionals' hard work and the ability to highlight their efforts so that other plan sponsors can learn from them and implement changes that will help their plan participants.

That, in turn, can lead to an outcome that everyone can understand: a dignified and secure retirement for all.