Distant retirement

February 13, 2007
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, AUTO : HUMAN RESOURCES

Companies struggle to get young workers into retirement plans

Learn about rising health care costs in the next part of the e-glass HR series. Read last week's article about employee incentives here.


Young workers in the glass industry aren’t opting in to private retirement plans, even with the solvency of Social Security and pensions in question, company executives report.

“Young people are paying off college debt, trying to buy a car, getting married,” says Gary Evans, vice president and owner of TSI/Exterior Wall Systems in Landover, Md. “Contributing to a retirement plan is one of the last things they have on their mind.”

Bill Evans, president of Evans Glass Co. in Nashville, says he faces the same struggle with his younger workers.

“The surest way I’ve found to [get employees to opt in] is to let them age,” Evans says. “The closer they get to 40, the easier it is to get them to buy into a 401K or matching program. This is true across blue and white collar employees.”

To help increase enrollment, many companies hold financial seminars with presentations from investment group representatives.

Other companies, including Arch Aluminum & Glass Co. of Tamarac, Fla., rely on in-house education, with human resources managers speaking directly with employees about the benefits of early retirement planning.

“The big stumbling block for many of our people is that they would rather keep that percentage of pay on their current checks instead of having it go toward their future,” says Max Perilstein, vice president of marketing for Arch. “Our HR staff is always working on better ways to explain and show the major benefits of a plan like this and we are adding more and more people at each open period.”

While Evans encourages his non-union employees to opt into TSI/Exterior Wall Systems’ 401K plan, he says his union workers can still rely on pension plans through the ironworkers union. For every hour of work, union employees receive $5.85 into their pensions, says Evans, who also serves on the trust fund for the ironworkers union.

Despite the recent failure of pensions in some industries, Evans says the ironworkers’ pensions are solid.

“We make sure our pension plans are not under funded; make sure the plan is something obtainable,” Evans says.