b'Business ManagementPandemic Heightens Needwith liquid assets that they can use in the short term, that can help lead to greater retirement fitness in the long termfor Retirement Planning because employees will be less likely to use their retirement COVID-19 highlights roles for emergency savings andplan assets for those needs," said Jeff Cimini, senior vicepresident of retirement product management at Voyalifetime income Financial in Windsor, Conn. To encourage participation and savings, employers can offer access to emergency savingsThe COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked accounts funded through payroll deductions and provide an havoc, even on retirement plans. While theincentive to participate, such as offering to match a certain Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic amount of employee contributions to these accounts. Security (CARES) Act provided important financial relief by allowing people to with- Leverage all available tools and resources draw or borrow more money from their retirement plans without penalty, the The first place to look for retirement planning support isBy Joanne Sammer negative effect of these withdrawals on existing retirement plan vendors. Digital financial platforms, future retirement income is likely to be significant.education, budgeting guidance, emergency savings accounts and financial wellness resources can all help start theGiven the ongoing volatility in the financial markets, chancesconversation about retirement planning and how it fits into are good that plan participants\' needs will keep changing. Thethe employee\'s overall finances. Ideally, any advisors orchallenge for employers is to find ways to make sure retire- coaches would incorporate the employer\'s benefit offerings ment planning feels accessible and relevant to employees.into these discussions. In the best of times, "retirement planning is an intimidatingThe COVID-19 pandemictopic," said David Fairburn, associate partner in retirement solutions practice with consulting firm Aon in Los Angeles.has wreaked havoc, even"Employees have more immediate concerns, and it can be hardon retirement plans. for them to take action if the topic feels too overwhelming."Here are four areas where retirement planning experts adviseThe advice can be "tailored to the benefits that are available to fresh thinking to help workers save for their golden years.the employee in addition to general education about financial issues," Fairburn suggested. "The key is to start theHelp employees save for emergencies and retirementconversation and help get employees on the right path."The pandemic showed how at risk retirement funds are, asAutomatic retirement plan features, such as automaticallyfinancially strapped retirement plan participants withdrewenrolling new hires into the plan and annually increasing the money from their 401(k) plans to pay their bills. Employeespercentage of pay workers contribute, can also ease thewho earn good salaries but have limited savings also borroweddecision-making burden on retirement plan participants. from their plans, according to a survey by Edelman Financial Engines, a provider of financial advice. More than a quarter of"The role of the employer is to be the biggest cheerleader for the 2,000 respondentswho were ages 40 to 65 and had retirement planning," Cimini said. "Plan designs like auto-annual household incomes over $100,000made early with- enrollment can lead to much higher participation rates and drawals from their retirement plans due to the pandemic. Theymakes it easier for participants to reach their retirementsaid they expect it will take six years to regain those funds.targets for total savings."When employees feel compelled to raid their 401(k)s, it\'s a signFocus on health care costs that they need help planning for financial emergencies.According to a Voya Financial study of 63,000 retirement planAs employees approach retirement age, they will need specific participants, individuals without an emergency fund thatinformation and guidance on critically important topics, such is equal to at least three months of living expenses were 13as retiree health care costs. Consider these relevant issues:times more likely to take a hardship withdrawal from their How can employees plan for health care costs duringretirement plan than those with a fully funded emergencyretirement? fund. What should they do about health insurance until they are "If employers can help employees establish an emergency fundeligible for Medicare at age 65? Page 6CONSTRUCTION JOURNAL'