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Many experts believe that 401k employee education, in its current form, does not work. I believe that it is just a matter of time until all employee education migrates to the Internet and online 401k employee education becomes the norm, for the following reasons:

Why Online Education Will Become More Prevalent

Both spouses can participate

Every employer knows that a disadvantage in offering employee education sessions at work is that your employee may not be the financial decision-maker in the family. This means that he/she may not have much of an interest or understand what is being presented. Online learning allows both spouses to have the same learning experience at the same time, in the same place, which facilitates a much better decision-making process.

It can happen anytime

In a world when almost any activity can be flexed to meet the needs of any person, it is unusual that 401k employee education sessions take place in only one type of venue at an appointed time. Online 401k employee education offers your employees and their busy spouses the opportunity to learn at a time that is best for them, wherever they happen to be.

Learning can happen in short bursts

Everyone knows how easily distracted we are and how short our attention spans can be. In one-hour onsite training sessions how many attendees are paying attention at minute 59? Or even after 10 minutes? Most successful online training programs offer short five to seven-minute modules. Who can’t commit to watching a video for five minutes?

It’s YouTubian

A friend of mine commented that any time he wants to learn something he heads to YouTube and loads a how-to video. Many of us have done this as YouTube has evolved into both an entertainment and learning platform. None of us have to be trained to use online tools. We already know how to do it.

Online 401k employee education is cost effective

There are no travel, materials or personnel costs associated with online learning.

It is happening with financial wellness training

Many types of training have migrated to the internet and found a home. Financial wellness training, a close relation to 401k employee education, has been offered by many employers to their employees for years via the Internet.

It does not pull employees away from their work

Many employers make their employee education sessions mandatory. They should be, especially since management has committed time and energy to the process. However, many employees don’t want to be there, for any number of reasons. There is also the issue of lost productivity that employers avoid with online training. Finally, many employees resent training that is scheduled over their lunch hours or outside of work. They view it as a loss of their free time.

Learning can occur at the same time for everyone

An issue in large companies, online 401k employee education opportunities can be made available for all employees, regardless of their location, at the same time. No one needs to wait until they are able to attend the training session or watch the video in order to learn. Access to learning modules can be granted to all employees at once.

It is hard to imagine with all these compelling reasons that online 401k employee education won’t become more widespread soon.


About the Author

Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS is the founder and President of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC. Mr. Lawton has over 30 years of retirement plan consulting and administration experience and has provided consulting services to many Fortune 500 companies including: Aon Hewitt, Apple Inc., AT&T, First Interstate Bank, Florida Power & Light, General Dynamics, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, IBM, John Deere, Mazda Motor Car Company, Northwestern Mutual, Northern Trust Company, Trek Bikes, Tribune Company, Underwriters Labs and many others. Mr. Lawton may be contacted at (414) 828-4015 or

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, vendor management and plan design services to 401(k) plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or or visit the firm’s website at: Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.