Grant County 2016 Aspire Award Recipient

Grant County received first place in the 2016 Aspire Award presented during the National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference held in Los Angeles County California July 22-26. 

Left to Right: Bill Jasien - NACo FSC Chair, Bryan Desloge - President national Association of Counties, Cindy Bobbitt Grant County Commissioner Dist. 2, Rob Bilo - Nationwide VP of Business Development and Relationship management.

Many counties, as employers and plan sponsors of the NACo Deferred Compensation Program, have developed and implemented innovative approaches to help create opportunities for their employees to be retirement ready.  NACo, and its Program administrator, Nationwide Retirement Solutions, created the Aspire Award to recognize two plan sponsors that have gone above and beyond in empowering their employees for retirement success.  Grant County Commissioner Cindy Bobbitt accepted the award on behalf of Grant County from Bill Jasien, NACo FSC Chair, Rob Bilo, Nationwide VP of Business Development and Relationship Management and Bryan Desloge, President National Association of Counties. 

The Grant County, Ok 401a match plan offered in conjunction with the Nationwide 457b plan is a governmental plan with a 200% matching plan with a $50 monthly maximum match. While good for the overall economic health for Grant County’s small population, low-income residents, and rural geography, increased job opportunities in the energy sector means the county government now must compete to hire and retain employees who could earn a higher wage in a different industry. Grant County had great employees, but county commissions began to wonder “how do we keep them from jumping ship”? There was some strategic planning  for a new program to provide benefits to employees that would provide the greatest delivery long term, particular in retirement years.

"Give employees the benefits they value, and they will be more satisfied, miss fewer workdays, be less likely to quit, and have higher commitment to meeting the county’s goals and needs,” said Max Hess, Grant County Board of Commissioners Chair. “ Research shows employees who feel their benefit needs- especially retirement benefits- are satisfied and more productive."

A superior employer program goes the extra mile and provides an employer matching program, which was the program objective for Grant County.  As a result 89% of the county employees chose to participate in the new matching program and additionally 84% of the new participants chose to retroactively contribute to the retirement program, all participants contributed the minimum required in order to maximize the county match, and more than 24% chose to contribute more than this minimum.  

Here’s one county employee’s testimony- “Yes, it is tempting to work for an oil company that can offer me a higher wage. I’ve seen my buddies do it and make good money, but I’ve also seen them get laid off recently, and some of them don’t have any kind of retirement benefits. I’m happy to stay where I am and think long-term instead of just being cash rich.”