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Working With Results

If your materials are helping overcome barriers to savings plans participation, you should see higher participation in current enrollments as compared to past years and/or your control group(s) (if used).

If adding the materials refinement step to your process, you also may see improvement when comparing current enrollments to your original test group, showing the power of incorporating employee feedback in designing your materials!

If you do see a positive impact, we encourage you to share the story of adopting this process with your managers and professional peers and help your organization share the information with board members and other stakeholders.

If you don't see meaningful results, keep in mind a few possible reasons:

Sharper Focus

It may be that your communications materials need more refinement. We encourage you to conduct more interviews or focus groups and solicit more feedback to try to sharpen focus on savings barriers and how you address them.

Limited Data

If you're working with small groups, statistics are generally less reliable as indicators of impact in any one enrollment period; in this scenario, we encourage you to try the process for two or three years and use aggregate data for your analysis.

You then may see that applying the TLC approach had clear, positive impact in the two years using this process as compared to the two years previous.

Analyzing the information another way, you may see a significant difference in participation between the last 100 eligible employees before adopting this process and the first 100 employees after adopting this process.

Random Effects

External events always play a role in human behavior, and factors beyond your control may affect your results; economic conditions, personal conditions in a set of new employees and other "random" factors can affect participation at any time.

Again, the impact of these external factors can be misleading in any one enrollment period, but the effects subside in averages over time: we encourage you to adopt the process for at least two years or 100 eligible employees and compare participation using those larger data sets.

TLC Recap

The TLC approach breaks down into three stages:

  1. Target the group(s) you most want to impact 
  2. Listen via focus groups, interviews and surveys 
  3. Create materials to address what you hear


This guide includes a number of resources.

You can use the samples to guide your own work or use them as-is for quick and easy program implementation.

Four Key Ideas

Employees may feel overwhelmed by savings plans. Clear, simple steps and information make it less intimidating.

Materials tailored for specific groups deliver more impact. Gender and age, for example, often drive different savings concerns and motivations.

The TLC process need not replace what you do now. Use new materials to complement your current process.

Implementing this approach at any scale can help, and every employee you motivate to save counts as a win.

More Information

You can learn more about the research behind the approach outlined in this guide in the following websites and publications:

"Increasing the Effectiveness of Retirement Saving Programs for Females and Low Income Employees: A Marketing Approach"

Chapter 7: New Ways to Make People Save: A Social Marketing Approach
Overcoming The Saving Slump: How To Increase The Effectiveness of Financial Education and Saving Programs by Annamaria Lusardi
University of Chicago Press, 2009
Available online at

New Ways to Make People Save: The Dartmouth Project
Trends and Issues
TIAA-CREF Institute, June 2008
Available online at

How to Foster Saving and Participation to Pensions: A New Approach / Identifying Barriers to Saving
Defined Contribution Insights Magazine
Profit Sharing/401k Council of America, July/August 2007
Available online at

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