Why is Saving Money so D$#@ Hard?

Why is Saving Money so D$#@ Hard?

Life is full of decisions; daily, we make decisions on what to eat, what to wear, who to talk to at work, and believe it or not, we decide daily on whether to save money for retirement. What I mean by that is a decision to not decide on a savings plan is a decision to not save. Did you get that? Procrastination on your savings plan not only costs you real dollars with that whole compound interest thing, but it is an unconscious decision to put other priorities over your future goals.

This is probably not news to you and I am not trying to make you feel bad, all I am trying to do is help you understand why saving is so D$#@ hard, and why it’s worth the fight to get on track. First, why is it so hard? Well there are a few points I want to make here.

1) Science tells us that the brain has an incredibly hard time identifying with our future selves. In fact, saving money for retirement is essentially convincing yourself to save money for a stranger. Can you imagine a random guy walking up to you on the street and saying, “pardon me, good sir, could you spare a few dollars for my 401(k)?” Without having a clear picture of what your future goals are, this is literally the same scenario for your brain. To bridge that gap, I encourage you to sit down and think about what your future holds. College expense for kids, retirement at 67, or starting a business would all be good goals, but you have to get more specific. Which college and for how long? Bachelors, masters, PhD? Retire- where, to do what? Are you going to work part time, are you going to travel, will you volunteer? Where would you volunteer? What business? Oh, a coffee shop, great! What is your mission statement going to be? The point I am making here is that your future vision has to be HD quality to trick your brain into giving up luxuries now for something that is going to happen in the future. Think through the details and make your vision clear, then you will know what you are saving for.

2) The whole world is against you: I’m sorry this isn’t more upbeat but seriously, have you ever heard the saying YOLO, as in, you only live once? First of all, that’s not true, you will live for eternity in one of two places and acting a fool on this side of eternity because you think all the fun will be over when you die is a terrible idea. (Email me if you want to discuss this further). Secondly, YOLO is a common attitude that keeps people from saving. The society we live in is constantly after your dollars for new clothes, new cars, new houses, better schools, cooler vacations, better food at the latest hipster joint. Everywhere you turn, someone is trying to separate you from your wallet and it is only getting worse. None of those things, in and of themselves, are bad but honestly, it’s all a little overwhelming. This is where you have to learn to say NO to yourself and to everyone who is seeking to get to your dollars. John Maxwell taught me to see everything in trade-offs. When you make a decision to spend money today, start asking what this purchase will prevent you from doing in the future. You don’t have to do it on every purchase; I don’t find myself saying, “What will this delicious chic fil-a spicy chicken sandwich keep me from doing in the future?” But I ask myself about big purchases. What will spending $600 on mountain bike do to my savings plan and what will that mean for the rest of my spending for the year? The point is that you become intentional on your spending decisions as you begin to evaluate your true priorities.

3) Lastly, your competitive spirit, as it plays out on social media, puts you in a constant race. I will write more about this next week in my blog called Facebook is killing your 401(k). As for today, all you need to know is that keeping up with Joneses is not keeping up with everyone you ever knew because they are all on Facebook and post every purchase, every trip, every toy and every new car online for the world to see. How come no one ever posts about having a fully funded emergency fund or that they increased their 401k contribution to 15%? Why might that be considered vain, but a picture of me on my $5,000.00 vacation is total acceptable? Our constant need for approval and commonality is costing us money in the future because it affects our decisions today.

Savings does not happen by accident and believe me, it doesn’t get much easier as your income goes up. Don’t get me wrong, if you have 5 kids and make $50,000.00, you are probably not going to save 15% of your income. However, for 8 years, I have worked with people who say, “Well, if I could just get this raise, or if I just get that Christmas bonus, then I would save.” Liar! I’m calling you out right now, right here! I’ve seen year after year in meetings with families whose income was up, yet their saving had stagnated. Saving money is hard, so is losing weight, and so is recovering from a heart attack and having to work at age 75.

Make the effort, be intentional, get help if you need it.
Caleb Bagwell

Caleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist

John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

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Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

Education That Means Something to Your People

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Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell
/Employee Education Specialist

John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

Follow Caleb’s Blog


Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

I have plenty of time to hurry: the life of a procrastinator

I-have-plenty-of-time-to-hurry--the-life-of-a-procrastinator

Read the first part of that title carefully. It has, unfortunately, been an unwelcomed mantra of my life and it didn’t truly hit me until I unintentionally said it out loud. I was traveling from Texas to Alabama recently and as I exited the plane, I found myself behind an elderly gentleman. He was not moving as fast as the people in front of him so he politely turned to me and said, “You can go around.” Side note: Even though I am a Millennial, where I come from, your elder goes first, always. I smiled and said, “No, please sir, you go ahead, I have plenty of time to hurry.” It stopped me in my tracks, like literally. I stopped and actually laughed at myself because it hit me like a ton of bricks. That unintended slip of the tongue described the feeling that has haunted me since my first science fair project; sorry, Mom.

I’m not proud of it, but procrastinating has been something I have gotten very good at. I tend to work better under pressure. Having always viewed life in trade-offs, I analyze the due date of a task and compare it to the fun of the moment. In college, I would start every semester by telling myself, “This time will be different, this time I am going to stay ahead!” WRONG!! I wish I could tell you that the rest of this blog is going to be about how I overcame my bad habit by detailing the 6 steps to diminish procrastination, but that would be a lie. I do believe I am taking the right steps to conquer this malady but it is a work in progress. Let me tell you why this life course correction is worthy of my attention.

1) Procrastination is selfish: In school, if you procrastinated on a project, threw it together the night before and maybe got a D as your grade, you didn’t really hurt anyone except yourself and maybe the people you were rude to at the coffee shop at 11PM. But when you join the work force, your procrastination, many times, impacts other people. If it is late off your desk, it will be late off someone else’s desk and you may unintentionally cause them harm. I personally did this to a colleague recently when I waited to the last minute to finish a project which had to be formatted. Needless to say, I wasn’t the one doing the formatting. Only when I finished my task was the other team member able to start work and thereby forced to labor until midnight to get it done. That was a selfish move which I regretted.

2) Procrastination increases stress: You may say, “Caleb I know I am a procrastinator but it’s fine. I have figured out how to live with that.” To which I say, “Liar, liar pants on fire.” You may think you have figured out how to deal with it but ask those around you if they enjoy your company when you are working, last minute, on a deadline. I would venture to say you aren’t quite as pleasant if you know you are not going to sleep tonight. Stress can kill the positive connection with your peers, bosses, families, and employees. If the stress is preventable, PREVENT IT!

3) Procrastination steals Opportunity: The old quote goes, “Opportunity comes to the prepared.” If you are always procrastinating, you will eventually miss an opportunity. It may be that by the time you’re working on the project, you need more data and it’s too late to get it, or because you missed the deadline and therefore the opportunity went to someone else.  Eventually, procrastination catches up with you and it is not pretty.

You have heard me say this before. Stay in your zone, I want you to focus on your strength, but I also do not believe it is okay to ignore a weakness if a few minor tweaks can increase your effectiveness. Procrastination gives you a false sense of having time to do a task later, but in truth, you may not.  We are not promised tomorrow so whether it is at work or home, stop putting off till tomorrow what you have time to do today!

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

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Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

Living for the “Ah ha” Moments – There is a Better Way!

 

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

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Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

Transparency: Given or Requested?

Transparency--Given-or-Requested

As my understanding of how my industry has operated in the past increases, I grow uncomfortable with the status quo. This entire industry has long been based on one party having all the information and other parties paying fees to get access to that information. That scenario was completely understandable during the founding of and growth of the modern financial enterprise. Information transfer was not as seamless as it is now and there was an immense amount of work required to gather that information.

Today may be a new day and age, yet most financial advisor/client relationships are still built on the advisor having all the info and the client being held to a certain level of required trust. Many clients are operating on the assumption that their advisor will give them the necessary information to make decisions. So, back to my title question, is the transparency regarding financial information given or requested? In this financial relationship, is transparency freely given by the advisor who understands instinctively the desire to see the details in order to make an informed decision? As a client, do you feel you have to request details that are needed to be fully informed? Try looking at it like this next time you meet with your advisor; can you answer the following questions without having to ask:

1) Do I understand why each change recommended benefits me?

2) Is it clear how my personal plan was considered in the recommendation?

3) Do I know how or if my fees will change because of this recommendation?

4) What is the long term impact of this decision?

Was it made clear to you why each change or recommendation made since your last meeting is in your best interest? Was it explained how your personal plan will benefit and how your expenses will change? Is it obvious how your advisor stands to benefit from the decision? These are all material questions and details that should be communicated with you without having to request the transparency.  If you are concerned that you are having to request transparency, have that discussion with your advisor. Your advisor may be so far in the weeds working for you that he or she forgets to communicate properly.  If, however, you have that discussion and are still concerned, give us a call for a second look.

 

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

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Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

Financial Planning: With one hand

Financial Planning- With one hand

As most of you know, my wife and I welcomed our first child into our family recently and to say that little Charles has changed my perspective on things in life would be an understatement. In just a few short weeks this guy has started to enlighten me in many ways. One such way is highlighted in the title of this week’s blog. Since my son was born, I don’t want to put him down. It’s weird, but I feel like my wife carried him for 9 months and now it’s my turn. This new posture has forced me to do many daily activities, you guessed it, one handed. Take writing this blog for instance. I’m on my phone in my Word app typing with my thumb. This is terribly inefficient but it’sSaturday so I’m going to let it slide. If I had a picture of myself in the chair, holding my son, and working on this bit, I believe many parents would relate, if not to this exact scene at least to the feeling it embodies. Trust me when I say, I have zero advice to give on how to be a parent and work a successful career; I’ll write that in 18-24 years. Instead, what I’d like share with you are some thoughts about what this picture really means.

Responsibility: Responsibility comes in many forms, but by definition, responsibility is having a duty to deal with something or someone. Think about it this way, if someone is responsible for a project then we are trusting they will complete said project according to their instructions. If we say that someone IS responsible, then we are recognizing that they generally act, react, or manage themselves in a way deemed appropriate. Basically, we are saying that responsibility is an exercise in prioritization, i.e. my reputation is worth more than the consequences of acting in a certain way. Just because I now have more responsibility at home and one less arm does not mean I can be less responsible to my clients. It means that I have to get better at prioritizing and more careful in the responsibilities I take on.

Desire vs. Require: Sticking with the image of my holding my son, let’s be honest. He is asleep, like zombie sleep. I just dropped a leather bound Bible on a hardwood floor and he didn’t even flinch. The point is that there is no requirement that says I have to hold him. I could put him down in his swing and he would be none the wiser. I am holding him because I desire to. I think that many of us fall into this category with certain responsibilities. We want to go the extra mile and we certainly don’t want to say no to anyone. We are overly accommodating perfectionists, but we are missing something. Every decision made has a trade-off. Going the extra mile in one area may prevent going the extra mile in another area. For more on this topic, read any of the thousands of books on work life balance. As your responsibilities increase you will need to get better at weighing the trade-offs.

L.E.P: Love, Energy, and Passion:  As I have gone back to work after Charles was born, I have re-evaluated everything we have discussed in these terms. What/who do I love the most? I have a finite amount of energy daily so how do I distribute that? How do the answers of the previous two questions overlap and pull me away from my passion? My passion in this life is to see people reach their true potential and win with money. No, not get rich, although I think that is a side effect of winning with money, but instead have a healthy understanding of the impact they can have on the world with money and talents. My passion now includes my son, but answering those questions has made it very clear that I need to become more efficient and eliminate some distractions in my life. If I want to have the impact I desire and be able to hold my son every morning, I will have to trade something else for that and I’m pretty sure I am going to have to learn to say “no”.

By this point, my thumb is numb, but I hope it was worth it. We have to be careful that as our responsibilities increase we do not use them as excuses. It would be very easy for me to change my expectations for myself now that I have more responsibility but what example would that set for Charles? “Oh son, as life gets harder just lower your standards so you don’t feel bad about yourself”. NOT!!! Focus, prioritize, evaluate, then get moving.

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

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Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

It’s Not About the Money

GLF - 401k.png

Okay, well, it’s not JUST about the money.  I think one of the biggest misconceptions about offering a 401(k) plan is that it is a money thing. Clear your ears out and listen to me here, your 401(k) is worth way more than money to you and to your employees. As an employee and employer, you have to stop limiting your view of the 401(k) plan and start considering its true impact.

As a firm, one of our beliefs is that to truly succeed with money, you have to understand that it is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. A 401(k) plan is simply a tool in the toolboxes of your employees and those tools are there to help them feel fulfilled and make memories. When we analyze people who we think are ready for retirement, we often talk in terms of money like, “I have X in saving and I need to take out Y per month so I am 100% funded for retirement.” What that equation really means is that in order to make memories, it will cost a certain amount which must be in savings to make retirement work. The 401(k) is a memory making tool for your workforce. If you can show employees that your intention in offering this benefit is not only to allow on-time retirement, but also to validate their need for security and ability to make memories, it will start to change your company’s culture.

One of our biggest concerns when working with new plans is when we see the leadership of the company approach the 401(k) as a necessary evil. “I know we have to have it but it’s costly and a liability”. Okay, thank you for that synopsis, Mrs. Glasshalfempty. Yes, it is all of those things, but it is so much more than that, too. The 401(k) is a platform for you to offer education to your employees on financial topics such as budgeting and debt reduction.

Nothing “big brotherish” about it. Employers have expressed to us that they fear they are going to overreach their place in their employees’ lives by offering financial education beyond the 401(k) Plan.  In our experience, this is not true. Think about it, your employees spend the better part of their non-sleeping life at work. For the mass population, personal finance isn’t the topic of discussion around the dinner table or on date night, so expecting employees to find time to educate themselves is expecting a lot. However, if you give them the opportunity to discover that knowledge at work, doors open to whole new world! We have lots of data that shows that financially stressed employees have a lag in production and are generally less engaged at work than those who are not. By offering the 401(k) plan complete with a customized financial education and resources to help them learn, your employees start to get the sense that you care. It becomes apparent that you have offered the 401(k) plan because you truly want it to affect their outcomes and not just be a checked box.

Bottom line is this, the 401(k) is a tool and if used correctly, it can build a culture and relationships of value and trust. For the employee, it can offer resources needed to truly get their financial life in order and for the employer, it can create a workforce of financially stable, loyal employees who feel valued and engaged. If you have more questions about the success we have seen with properly run plans, feel free to reach out.

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

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Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

Don’t Call Me That!

Don’t Call Me That!

Hello Reader. Today’s content is for you readers who check my blog on a regular basis.

Okay, now on a serious note, how silly did it sound for me to call you, “readers”? We run into this same problem in the 401(k) world with the term Participant. In almost every piece of literature I see that comes from plan providers or from the Department of Labor, I see employees referred to as Participants. I know, I know, that is a safe term that easily defines their status but it’s disingenuous and generic, especially to most of the employers with whom we work. We have seen employers say something like this, “That’s not a participant, that’s Bob. Bob’s been with us for 22 years; I watched Bob’s kids grow up. Can you please stop referring to Bob as “Participant”?

You may not think that the terminology you use or that is used by your plan provider or your plan’s financial advisor can affect the impact of that plan, but it most certainly can. It may also tell you the motivation behind those companies that you have hired. They call them participants because they don’t know Bob and in some cases, especially with your plan provider, that’s okay. In most situations, however, I would encourage you to forge relationships with people who care as much about your employees as you do. Remember why you have the plan in the first place and make sure the people you work with always respect those reasons.

For more on this topic I would encourage you to check out my partner Jamie Kertis’s blog from this week, it’s a great read.

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

Follow Caleb’s Blog

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

What do you mean you don’t want the job?

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Most of the time this question is asked in reverse, but for today, let’s assume that you are in charge of the hiring at your company. So you are either an owner, manager, or HR pro and you are all too familiar with the stacks of seemingly identical resumes that appear when you open up a key position. Perhaps you even enlisted the services of a recruiter to be sure that you find your perfect fit. Then…it happens.

You crumble up the resume in your hand to read the next and there it is (imagine a soft light shining down and angel singing in the background). This is your perfect fit with all the skills and experience you could ever ask for. The candidate only asks for a reasonable salary, and you don’t know if it’s delirium or not, but the resume paper smells of lavender and babies. You ask for an interview and put the person through the ringer with the happy result of measuring up on all accounts.  You discuss the hire with your team and you all agree to move forward. With eager excitement, you call with the good news and then you get hit with the rejection 2×4.  “Thank you so much for the offer, but I have decided to go a different direction.”

It does not take many of these to totally kill your morale and it usually is followed by a form of corporate grieving. Not like you lost a loved one but you certainly internalize the rejection a bit.  Step 1: Defense. “What a punk, what a waste of our time and who would not want to take this job?” Step 2: Denial. “Well, this clearly wasn’t the right candidate, would have been bad for us, and obviously didn’t see how awesome we are.” Then Step 3: Settling. “Just call the other guy we interviewed and hire him. I’m sure he will be a quick learn.”

Unfortunately, we very seldom sit down and ask ourselves, “what did we miss?” or “what does the “other direction” have that we don’t have?” In a sales position, we always encourage people to have a process. This does 2 things, 1) it makes things replicable and 2) if something goes wrong, we can analyze the when/where and fix it before the next time. Hiring people should be no different. Your hiring process should replicable and when you lose a good hiring prospect instead of internalizing it, you should stop and analyze what happened. Start by asking these 3 questions:

1)      Was it something I said? Okay, not really, but the first analysis should be of the company and the process. Did we miss a step in showing our company culture? Did we truly convey the vision and mission that we have? Did the task we needed to be complete actually fit into the candidate’s long term goals?

If you answered all the questions and still do not understand what went wrong move to questions 2.

2)      What do they have that we don’t? Where did the recruit go instead of our company? This shouldn’t be too hard to figure out as obviously you are connected with potential hires on LinkedIn by now. Once you know where the prospect went, you can start to analyze those questions.  What did the other company offer that we didn’t? What box did they check for this candidate that we didn’t offer to check? Uncovering these facts will help you alter your process or the offering before you hire again.

3)      What do we need to change? Let me be clear here, the answer to number 3 in most situations will be NOTHING. Sometimes the only way to know why a person made a certain decision is to drug him/her with truth serum and ask. If, in answering questions 1 and 2, you discover something that you can control, then you must take action! Do not settle with not always landing the best talent.

This goes back to my blog on how your people are your second most valuable asset.  Once you have your bus built, it is imperative that you get the right people on that bus.

I think it goes without say that we are biased on what sets companies apart (employee development, company culture and vision, and benefits) to top tier talent, but ultimately each person will be different. Control what you can control, change what needs to be changed and remember, if you want to go somewhere fast, go alone. If you want to go somewhere far, build the right team.

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

Follow Caleb’s Blog

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

Know Thy Workforce

Know-Thy-Workforce.png

In the coming months we will start a series on the blog called “What’s the Point?” which will discuss the “Whys” behind employee benefits. To get your brain thinking in that direction I want you to answer a question. Do you know your workforce?

No, I’m not asking if you recognize Bob from accounting, I’m asking if you know and understand where your employees are in their personal journey with their careers and money? As our understanding of how employee benefits programs work we are beginning to realize that this is not a one size fits all. Jeff, your 25-year-old new hire, does not need the same things that Brenda, your 45-year-old mid-career mother of 3, does. Both of them have drastically different questions and needs than Mark the 65 year-old who dreams of spending more time with his grandkids. Providing benefits that are actually viewed as benefits, that actually attract and retain good employees is a practice of providing benefits and education that are relevant and valuable to them. The only way to do that is to Know thy Workforce.

By this point you are probably saying, “Caleb, how do you expect me to know 100+ employees?” That is a great question, but it’s not what I’m saying. Think about it this way; chances are you have 3 basic groups of employees on your team. You have those in the first 10-15 years of their working life, from here on out, let’s call them Kimmies. Then you have Dougs, those 16-35 years into their careers and lastly Bobs, 5 years or less from retirement. Click here to read what Jamie Kertis said on this same topic from a plan design perspective. What you need to understand from the right brain perspective is that Kimmies are not attracted by hearing, “we have a great 401(k) Plan” because inside they are saying, “um, can someone tell me how I’m supposed to pay off this student loan?” Dougs don’t usually get pumped about learning how to pay down student debt, but if someone could show him how to fund college for his children, that would be valuable! Bobs are wondering what this transition looks like? He thinks, “I got them through college, I saved for my retirement, now is it enough, and what steps should I take to get ready for retirement. The theme you should be grasping is that “GOOD” benefits packages should add value to your team and that starts by knowing where they are.

Trust me when I say, offering are 401(k) or health care plan does not make you special. I don’t mean to downplay the sacrifice businesses make to offer these, they are expensive and time consuming, but talent is looking for more. So, how do you do this, how do you add value to all these different groups?

1) Look at the statistics: Knowing your demographics will help you understand if you have more Kimmies, Dougs, or Bobs working for you.  Also, anonymous surveys about topics of interest are a great way to find out what your team needs without them feeling like their privacy was compromised.

2)  Give them a Resource: I am not saying, nor am I expecting, you to be the resource on all these subject. With our focus being on 401(k) plans, many of our clients have us build custom education plans around what their employees need. In those cases, we act as the resource to those participants on personal financial questions, not just the robot suits that tell them how a 401k works. Have a question about student loans? I can help. How about paying off debt or budgeting? I got that covered, too. You are not the resource but you show your team how much you care by hiring someone that can help them!

3)  Listen:  You may be surprised what your team is telling you if you just open your eyes and ears? Are your employees asking for more overtime? Do you have low participation rates in your 401(k)?  Are your claims on the health plan increasing? Are applicants asking if you provide benefits that you don’t? Evidence is staggering that employers who listen AND RESPOND have an incredible impact on morale. Adversely, those who don’t listen can destroy any motivation.

Knowing your workforce is important. It makes them feel appreciated and at the end of the day, you may be offering benefits that they don’t really want or need.  A bit of research and strategically worded questions will allow your company to connect, attract, and retain good talent, by adding value through your benefits plan.

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.