NEPC’s Defined Contribution team conducted a second flash poll on defined contribution plan sponsor views and reactions in light of COVID-19. The follow-up to last year’s COVID-19 Impact Poll covered the pandemic’s impact on plans and sponsors’ priorities for 2021.

The respondents are largely from public (19%), healthcare (20%), and corporate (52%) organizations. Below are the key themes:

  • Healthcare plans were heavily impacted: While 50% of all respondents experienced furloughs last year, 66% of healthcare respondents indicated the same. Of all respondents that suspended the match in 2020 because of COVID, 44% were healthcare plans. Healthcare organizations expect a relatively quick recovery, though. No healthcare respondents expect furloughs in 2021 and all respondents that suspended the match plan to reinstate it this year.
  • Plan innovation returns to the spotlight: After prioritizing COVID-related initiatives in 2020, almost half of all respondents (40%) expect a return to “business as usual” this year. Discussions centered around plan innovation will likely play a central role, with 40% of respondents planning to review financial wellness tools and 33% considering retirement income solutions.
  • Investment menus are working: Almost all respondents (96%) are satisfied with their investment menus. Target date funds (TDFs) in particular may help with this high satisfaction score – 32% of respondents rated their TDF performance as “terrific.” No respondents said they had “disappointing” TDF performance.
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