Michigan Office of Retirement Services recognized as 2024 Plan Sponsor of the Year

The Michigan Office of Retirement Services (ORS) has been named 2024 Plan Sponsor of the Year. The recognition was announced at the Excellence in Retirement Awards, as part of the PlanSponsor National Conference, held June 4-7 in Chicago. Plan Development and Compliance Director Allison Wardlaw accepted the honor on behalf of ORS.

To earn the honor, ORS outperformed two other finalists in the category for Government Defined Contributions (DC) plans with $1 billion or more in assets: the County of Los Angeles (California) and the Oregon Savings Growth Plan.

Nine other retirement plans were also recognized at the event for being best in their classification.

PlanSponsor publisher Alison Cooke Mintzer thanked ORS and other sponsors, providers, and advisers for contributing to Americans’ retirement success at the Excellence in Retirement Awards dinner.

“Our purpose at the ORS is to empower our members for a successful today and a secure tomorrow. Our role is to be their trusted partner for their retirement goals and needs,” ORS Executive Director Anthony Estell said. “What matters to us are results. That’s why we are proud to share this.”

The foundation for the ORS honor is Small Steps, the program that helps State of Michigan 401(k) and 457 Plan participants better prepare for retirement.

Administered by Voya Financial for ORS, Small Steps is an automatic escalation program that increases participant contributions in the plans by 1% annually up to 15% unless they opt out. Small Steps is for employees of Michigan public schools, the State of Michigan, and the Michigan State Police eligible for the employer match as defined contribution, Pension Plus, and Personal Healthcare Fund participants.

With Small Steps, 61% of participants in the plans are on track to earn at least 70% of their preretirement income in retirement Voya reported in a 2023 study. By comparison, only 20% were projected to reach that level before Small Steps started in 2017.

For the 2024 Small Steps program, 147,975 participants – or 97.9% of those eligible – retained the 1% increase to their defined contribution plan as of April 30. More than 2,000 participants increased their contributions to 15% or greater as of April 30 according to Voya.

The Plan Sponsor of the Year award is in addition to the 2024 Best in Class 401(k) Plan honor that PlanSponsor previously gave the State of Michigan 401(k) Plan. The plan was cited for retirement savings increases and promotional efforts with Small Steps.

The Michigan Office of Retirement Services (www.michigan.gov/ors) administers retirement programs for Michigan's state employees, public school employees, judges, state police, and National Guard members. This includes over 598,000 customers (about 288,000 active and 310,000 retired members). Nearly one out of every 13 Michigan adults living in one out of every eight Michigan households benefits from ORS services.

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