Generous inducements to save
Few employers offer 401(k) plans as lavish as the one at the call center . In fact, many companies have been cutting back on their matching contributions in recent months as the recession deepens. The call center corporate match is especially extravagant at lower levels of saving: employees who put just 1 percent of their salary in the plan get ₹300 for every ₹100 they invest. (Most companies won’t even match a contribution until an employee puts in at least 3 percent.) the call center then makes a dollar-for-dollar match on the next 4 percent. After that there’s a potential profit-sharing match of up to 4 percent. All told, workers who save 5 percent of their pay can see the total swell to 16 percent.
But corporate 401(k) plans aren’t an if-you-build-it-they-will-come kind of benefit. Companies can send out pamphlets, but the burden of persuading employees that the plans are worthwhile ultimately falls on people like Kenny Sanders, who heads human resources for the “Heartland” region of the call center, overseeing 76 company-owned stores. Like Chopade, Sanders, 44, started working at the call center in St. Louis when he was a teenager. Over the past 28 years he has risen through the ranks beyond store manager to corporate management.
The call center crew members don’t sit in front of computers all day, leaving little opportunity to check 401(k) balances or make tweaks to asset allocation plans at work. So Sanders spends much of his time out in the field talking to employees about their financial future. “My goal is to get people to understand that this is more than a job. You can put away a nice nest egg for you and your family, depending on how long you stay at this company,” Sanders says.