by comparing saving to scaling a
Holeman agrees. People who
lived through the financial crash are
“naturally more cautious,” he says,
adding that “many are still affected by
Among those still affected is Bulger,
the millennial HR practitioner in
California. “Just as we were becoming
adults, that’s when it all hit the fan,”
Bulger says. As a result, “I’m a little
paranoid” about finances, she says.
Zoë Fox has a similar attitude.
Now a 29-year-old realtor in
Philadelphia, Fox remembers a
college friend who had to drop
out after her parents suffered a
foreclosure during the financial
crisis. Does that memory affect her
philosophy about retirement savings?
“Absolutely—I’m super conservative
about money,” she says.
Modifying the Match
Employers have another simple,
yet powerful method that can help
encourage cash-strapped millennials,
or employees of any generation, to
overcome their investment fears and
participate in the 401(k) plan: increase
the employer match.
That’s what Microsoft did last year,
when it began matching half of each
participant’s contribution, up from half
of an employee’s first 6 percent of pay
deferred. Now, about 90 percent of
Microsoft workers participate in the
company’s 401(k) plan.
Not every company has the cash to
contribute as much as Microsoft does
to employee retirement savings. Other
effective strategies, however, are well
within the reach of any organization.
How an employer structures its
match also can make a difference, say
the authors of the Transamerica report.
They recommend that employers
encourage employees to save more by
matching half of the first 6 percent a
worker contributes, for example, rather
than the first 3 percent.
Another relatively easy approach,
Thiele says, is to tailor communications
to different segments of the
workforce—a step that could be
particularly effective with millennial
workers who have little experience
with saving for retirement.
At Microsoft, employees are
allocated into 13 “buckets” based on
factors such as how—and how much—
they save, with each “bucket” getting
its own stream of communication.
That way, millennials who may not
be as engaged in their 401(k)s as
other demographic groups are able
to receive messages that are more
tailored to their situation and needs.
Thiele’s advice: “If you don’t have
resources to increase your match, get
rid of your old, tired communications
It’s also true that millennials are
generally more comfortable with
technology than most older workers.
Experts, therefore, recommend
choosing a plan administrator that
offers participants mobile access to
The Transamerica survey found 80
percent of millennial workers preferred
401(k) providers that offer mobile access.
At Vanguard, mobile devices now
represent 22 percent of all client
SOURCE: TRANSAMERICA CENTER FOR RE TIREMENT STUDIES, 2016
Baby Boomers Gen X Millennials
(born 1946-64) (born 1965-78) (born 1979-2000)
Median age when they began saving for retirement 35 28 22
Median retirement contribution (as share of annual salary) 10% 7% 7%
Percent listing retirement savings as a current top financial priority 39% 31% 12%
Household retirement savings in 2016 $147,000 $69,000 $31,000
Change in household retirement savings since 2007 +96% +116% +244%
contacts (compared to 17 percent
through telephone calls to a Vanguard
representative), as millennials become
the workforce’s largest generation. The
company did not break out figures for
mobile access in previous annual reports.
“Millennials are different,” says
Zane Dalal, executive vice president of
Benefit Program Administration, a Los
Angeles-based company that manages
benefits programs for employers and
trade unions. “They’re used to doing
everything with two thumbs” on a
smartphone, he says.
Experts agree that employers
are going to need to do a better job
recognizing and addressing those
differences if they hope to successfully
engage millennials in saving for the
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People Compiled by Mark McGraw
Barry Melnkovic has been
named vice president and chief human
resources officer at Pittsburgh-based
United States Steel Corp.
Melnkovic was previously executive
vice president and chief human capital
officer at National Railroad Passenger
Corp./Amtrak, where he also served
as an officer and member of the
organization’s executive committee.
Melnkovic earned a master’s degree
in human resources from Rutgers
University, and a bachelor’s degree
in economics from the University of
Athena Kaviris has been named
vice president of human resources for
GE Transportation in Chicago and vice
president of labor relations at Boston-based General Electric Co.
Kaviris brings more than 20 years
of experience at GE to the positions,
having held leadership roles in human
resources for GE Lighting, GE Power,
GE Capital, GE Aviation and GE
Kaviris earned a master’s degree
in organization development from the
University of San Francisco, and a
bachelor’s degree in psychology and
business administration from the State
University of New York.
New York-based Gerson Lehrman
Group Inc. has named Melinda Wolfe
global head of
GLG, Wolfe was
at Pearson PLC.
She has also
served as head of
Bloomberg LP, as well as senior vice
president of executive talent and chief
diversity officer at American Express.
Wolfe has also held senior HR positions
at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse.
Wolfe holds a master’s degree in
public administration from Harvard
University and a bachelor’s degree
in urban studies from Washington
Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Zinpro
Corp. has named Ron Leonhardt
director of global human resources.
was vice president
of global human
and has also served
as HR director for
consulting firms as well as a
department store chain.
Leonhardt earned a master’s degree
in international affairs, international
business and finance from Columbia
University, and a bachelor’s degree
in international economics from
Lauren Laitman has been named
senior vice president of people at
Tapad, a New
provider of cross-
served as vice
human resources at Collibra, and
has held senior HR positions at
technology companies such as Google,
Zeta Interactive, Collective and
Laitman holds a juris doctorate
from the Hofstra University School
of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in
English from the State University of
DaVita Kidney Care, a division of
Denver-based DaVita Inc., has named
Eric Severson chief people officer.
as co-chief human
and senior vice
president for global
talent solutions at
Gap Inc., and also
spent nearly 10
years in employee
and labor relations, as well as store
operations, at Macy’s Inc.
Severson earned a master’s
degree in English from Arizona State
University and a bachelor’s degree in
English from Penn State University.
Millennials Get Serious About Saving
A recent survey by Transamerica Institute for Retirement Studies found millennial workers are at least as engaged
in retirement saving as those from earlier generations.