Skip to content

People Processes: Q&A – Group Retirement, and Dramatic Changes in Appearance

How can organizations help prepare employees for a timely retirement?

Issue: Your workers are anxious about saving enough money for retirement, according to results from your organization’s latest employee opinion survey. What strategies can you employ to support your employees’ retirement planning?

Answer: Employers have a variety of strategies available to support their employees’ retirement planning,  For today’s multi-generational workforce, Sibson recommends the following:


Targeted education. Opening the channels of communication and customizing the messages are pivotal factors in helping employees improve their retirement readiness. “One-size-fits-all” is a misnomer; with a few rare instances, it should be “one-size-fits-few,”. Communications should be easy to understand and delivered on a regular basis, beginning well before retirement age. Organizations can isolate and target numerous attributes for an employee’s personal communications, including:

  • Demographics (age, gender, education, income, type of work, cultural, and geographic region);

  • Attitudes/Beliefs/Behaviors (extrinsic v. intrinsic motivation, optimistic, fearful/suspicious, skeptical, cost-conscious, risk tolerance, and compliant);

  • Communication Expectations (familiarity, access, time, face-to-face, technology, social); and

  • Work/Life Stage (new hire, mid-career, late-career, Medicare-eligible, single, married, children, life events).


Auto-savings arrangements. While targeted education is designed to combat inertia, auto-savings arrangements in defined contribution plans can help ensure that employees are saving at an appropriate rate and in suitable asset classes. While auto-savings arrangements can help employees overcome their own natural biases against saving, note that their “one-size-fits-all” solution can be a drawback as they don’t consider the relative financial wellness of individual employees. For example, they may not increase savings quickly enough for a mid-career employee with a low account balance.


Creative match formulas. Employees who find it difficult to overcome savings inertia may benefit from a contribution formula that incentivizes significant deferrals and provides a larger profit-sharing contribution, explained Sibson. A deeper dive into plan data can help plan sponsors analyze changes in staffing based on growth, delayed retirements, unexpected early retirements and aging workforce populations to inform plan design improvements. While all these strategies can work, each organization is unique, and a customized workforce analysis can identify the right answers to meet specific needs.

If an employee’s appearance dramatically changes, may an employer explain to coworkers that the employee has cancer?

Issue>>: Donny, a hairstylist, has been unable to eat regularly because he is undergoing chemotherapy for melanoma. Due to a 30-pound weight loss, his appearance has changed drastically. His coworkers and other clients have been gossiping about whether he has AIDS. Can the salon owner tell everyone Donny has cancer, not AIDS?

<<Answer>>: No, the salon owner may not disclose Donny’s illness to coworkers and others in the workplace. Despite the concern an employee’s coworkers and others may have for an employee’s health, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits an employer from revealing that the employee has cancer. An employee, however, may voluntarily choose to tell his coworkers and others that he has cancer and about his treatment. However, even when an employee voluntarily discloses that he has cancer, the employer must keep this information confidential consistent with the ADA. An employer also may not explain to other employees why an employee with cancer has been absent from work if the absence is related to his cancer or another disability.

With limited exceptions, an employer must keep confidential any medical information it learns about an applicant or employee. Under the following circumstances, however, an employer may disclose that an employee has cancer:

  • to supervisors and managers if necessary to provide a reasonable accommodation or meet an employee’s work restrictions;

  • to first-aid and safety personnel if an employee may need emergency treatment or require some other assistance at work;

  • to individuals investigating compliance with the ADA and similar state and local laws; and

  • where needed for workers’ compensation or insurance purposes (for example, to process a claim).

In this instance, the salon owner should act to discourage the rumors and gossip but may not reveal that Donny has cancer.

About the author, Rhamy

Rhamy grew up watching and working with his mother and grandmother in the seniors insurance market. This familiarity with the struggles faced by people trying to navigate the incredibly complicated and heavily regulated healthcare market led him to start Poplar Financial while working on his degree at the University of Memphis. After completing his MBA and Bachelors in Finance and Economics, Rhamy guided Poplar Financial through the disruptive opportunity that is the Affordable Care Act. Since then Poplar Financial has received numerous awards from major insurance carriers, and has completed its fourth year in a row of doubling in size. Now his team focuses on the processes around human resources, and specializes in providing companies with between 20 and 1000 employees with the payroll, benefits, and HR needs.

Leave a Comment