PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 12

BEST PRACTICES | 2021 PLAN SPONSOR OF THE YEAR WINNERS
Public Defined Contribution (DC)
Harris County School District
Hamilton, Georgia
T
he Harris County School District, with
central offices in Hamilton, Georgia, started
developing its financial wellness program in
late 2018, after seeing evidence that many of its
employees felt financially stressed. " I noticed a
recurring issue: our participants taking loans
and hardship withdrawals, " Benefits Coordinator
Renee Lipp recalls. " It just broke my heart. I
thought, 'This is not a savings account, this is a
retirement account.' "
But there is only so much an employer
can do in its role as plan sponsor to address
employees' broader financial issues, Lipp says.
So a year ago January, the district launched a
financial wellness program in partnership with
financial education provider Mentoro, to address
employees' financial stress points.
The district has widespread employee
demographics, and most of its workers lack any
education in finance. " We have everything from
our cafeteria lunch ladies who may have a GED
[General Educational Development diploma] and
little or no financial background, to people with
a doctorate who are in leadership, " says Assistant
Superintendent Stacey Carlisle. " On the education
staff, our teachers have put their lives and
hearts into helping students build their future.
At the same time, if you talk to the teachers about
their own financial future, that's not their skill.
So we decided to take our educators and turn
them into students. We thought, if our people
know better, they will do better. "
Mentoro utilizes gamification-the application
of game-playing elements such as scoring-
to help incentivize employees to engage with
the program. Once they register on Mentoro's
website and complete a financial profile, they
get a personalized financial wellness score and
action plan. Program participants can then
earn points to improve their score, such as by
increasing their 403(b) plan contribution or
starting an emergency savings account.
After registration, employees also may have
one-on-one phone consultations with Mentoro's
12 PLANSPONSOR.COM June - July 2021
financial wellness educators and may attend the
group educational meetings, held quarterly.
Within six months of the launch, nearly
half of the workers had enrolled and received
their personalized action plan. In the first year,
the district held six virtual group financial wellness
meetings, attended by 215 employees; 43
had individual meetings by phone with Mentoro.
Metrics have shown improvements in
employees' financial wellness in first-quarter
2021, compared with first-quarter 2020.
Twenty-one percent of those who have used
the lifetime-income projection tool saw their
projection improve during that time.
At a recent 403(b) committee meeting,
several employees spoke about their success
with the program in its first year. In 2018,
Harris County leadership also began to re-evaluate
the plan design of the 403(b) and the next
year engaged Hartmann-Astor Investment
Consulting LLC to assist.
In 2020, the sponsor formed a committee,
with members from a cross-section of employee
demographics, jobs and income levels, to dive
into the plan design. " We were concerned that
many of our employees were not participating,
and leaving a valuable match[-100% of 3%-]
on the table, " Lipp says. " We recognized that the
[defined benefit (DB)] pensions offered to our
staff are valuable, but may not be able to fully
fund their retirement, and so we're working to
have the 403(b) help fill that gap. "
The plan decided to add automatic features,
but one by one in order to not overwhelm the
participants, says Hartmann-Astor Principal
Eric Hansen. Last July, it added auto-enrollment
for new hires, a fairly new concept in the 403(b)
marketplace, Hansen says, and, thus far, 100%
have stayed enrolled. Next, it plans to do an
investment re-enrollment into its default fund
and next year to start auto-escalating those deferring
only the 3% default deferral rate, by 1%
annually, with a goal of 10%. Today, 75% of the
employees participate in the plan. -Judy Ward
Renee Lipp,
Benefits Coordinator
" ... our teachers
have put
their lives
and hearts
into helping
students build
their future. At
the same time,
if you talk to
the teachers
about their
own financial
future, that's
not their skill. "
Finalist
State Universities
Retirement System
Champaign, Illinois
More on PLANSPONSOR.com/
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PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021

2021 Plan Sponsor of the Year Winners
2021 Recordkeeping Survey
The Right Provider Team
For the Best Collaboration
2021 PLANSPONSOR Service Stars
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - Cover1
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - Cover2
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 1
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 2
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 3
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 4
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 5
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 6
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 7
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 8
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 9
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 2021 Plan Sponsor of the Year Winners
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 11
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 12
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 13
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 14
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 15
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PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 18
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 19
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 20
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 21
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 2021 Recordkeeping Survey
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 23
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 24
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 25
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 26
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 27
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 28
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 29
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 30
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 31
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - The Right Provider Team
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 33
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 34
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 35
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - For the Best Collaboration
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 37
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 38
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 2021 PLANSPONSOR Service Stars
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - 40
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - Cover3
PLANSPONSOR - June/July 2021 - Cover4
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/august_september_2021
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/june_july_2021
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/april-may_2021
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/february-march_2021
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/december-january_2021
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/october-november_2020
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/august-september_2020
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/june-july_2020
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/april-may_2020
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/february-march_2020
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/december-january_2020
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/october-november_2019
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/august-september_2019
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/june-july_2019
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/april-may_2019
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/february-march_2019
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/december_2018-january_2019
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/october-november_2018
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/august-september_2018
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/june-july_2018
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/april-may_2018
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/february-march_2018
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/december_2017-january_2018
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/november_december_2017
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/october_2017
https://www.plansponsordigital.com/plansponsor/september_2017
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