Meeting the Moment: Engaging a Remote Workforce Through Benefits

For Plan Sponsors, who often measure the success of their retirement solution through employee engagement and participation, the shift to remote work amplified many of the challenges they already faced. From providing employees with clear communication to answering questions and easing financial concerns, the unplanned shift to an all-digital ecosystem further complicated the process of engaging and educating employees on their retirement plan. 

"82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time1, while 65% of employees reported wanting to stay a full-time remote worker post-pandemic." 2


The shift to remote work, initially attributed to COVID-19, is likely to continue. The number of remote workers in the next five years is expected to be nearly double what it was before COVID-19: By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be remote, an increase of 16.8 million people from pre-pandemic rates.3 With partial or entirely remote teams on the rise, there are a few proven tactics that Plan Sponsors can lean on to ensure their workforce is educated, engaged, and confident in their ability to plan for the future.

Communicate Often

To keep remote workforces motivated and engaged, organizations have reevaluated the methods, frequency, and types of communications sent to employees. For retirement-focused communications, this means moving away from a “one-size-fits-all” delivery model to year-round, targeted communications that use personalization to focus messaging on a plan participants’ life stage and individual needs. 

"Communications can be tied to annual events — like end-of-year planning or retirement awareness weeks — to take advantage of heightened awareness. "


In a remote work setting, it can be easy for plan participants to feel isolated or disconnected, so creative communication options that build a culture of belongingness are increasingly important. Aligning communications to the channels employees prefer and use, is also important to ensuring efficacy and establishing a feedback loop for topics that are top of mind for employees. 

Business communications platforms offer new avenues for internal connection and conversation through direct, one-to-one support or in group channels that allow for ongoing dialogue. Insights from these conversations and surveys can help inform larger group education, training, and informational sessions with your Plan Advisor and other benefits providers. Together, these touchpoints can go a long way in easing anxiety about retirement savings in light of the pandemic, and drive engagement that is critical to plan and participant success.

Incentivize Employee Engagement

With many facing economic hardships as a result of the pandemic, businesses are emphasizing holistic financial wellness practices in 2021. For Plan Sponsors in particular, improving employees' financial knowledge is the number one focus in the coming year.4 This focus on education is critical as 62% of participants rely on workplace retirement programs for guidance to achieve retirement goals.5

Finding ways to incentivize education programs in a remote setting can help increase engagement and help ensure employees understand the value and importance of their retirement benefits. In addition, offering prizes or incentives for participation, or encouraging healthy competition through learning challenges or team competitions, can help boost levels of engagement across an organization.

The contradictions in what employees want out of workplace learning experiences can create challenges for employers, even in in-person settings. Learners of all ages reported feeling motivated to learn in a social environment with their colleagues, while also seeking highly-personalized courses and content that provide the right information for them, at the right time.6 Addressing these needs remotely, through a combination of individual or self-directed education and larger group events can help deliver a diverse retirement and financial wellness education program that provides employees with options for how they want to engage, and when.

Offer Human Support

Retirement plans can be complex. Beyond simply understanding the options available to them, employees often face difficult financial decisions when it comes to managing retirement savings in the context of their overall financial wellbeing. Given the nuances of each employee’s needs, even the best education programs and engagement strategies can fall short of addressing each individual’s specific challenges.

"61% of people in a recent survey7 said they expect to increase their usage of video conferencing after COVID-19 has subsided."


With the widespread adoption of video conferencing as part of remote work, the accessibility of one-to-one support and conversations may be greater than ever before. This may be especially true for Financial Advisors as well, who can provide personalized guidance at critical moments for employees during the ongoing global pandemic and beyond.

From Engagement to Wellbeing

With employers feeling increasingly responsible for their employees’ financial wellness8, the shift to remote work has presented new challenges in how to effectively engage employees and provide the education needed to help them feel confident about their financial wellbeing. Discover more about Morgan Stanley at Work and how one of our Financial Advisors can help to develop remote engagement strategies that help inspire your workforce so they can start to embrace their tomorrow, today.










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