Presenting employers with a psuedo-active choice to increase registration

Experiment Type
Field Experiment
Increase program enrollment
Increase long-term savings
Focus Areas
Marketing & messaging
Behavioral Concepts
Salience Friction
Oregon State Treasury
Partner Type

What Happened

It didn't work. The pseudo-active choice did not lead to any significant changes in employer registration rates. In fact, the pseudo active choice led to an increase in the number of days it took, on average, to register.

Lessons Learned

This study suggests that just providing one option for registration made the starting process easier. The condition with only one option at the bottom (the Re-designed Control condition) had employers that registered, on average, 4 days earlier.


In addition to focusing on maximizing employee participation in the OregonSaves program, we again partnered with OregonSaves to encourage employers to register their businesses in a timely manner. Employers in Oregon who don’t currently offer retirement benefits to their employees must offer access to the OregonSaves program. There are several steps that employers must take to do so, including logging into the OregonSaves online portal, registering their business and adding their employees.

Registering their business and adding employees are critical steps to OregonSave’s process – the information that employers provide jumpstarts the process for reaching out and connecting to their employees. Currently, OregonSaves sets a deadline by which employers should register. However, some employers don’t register their business by the deadline.

Key Insights

There are a number of reasons why people procrastinate, and several of those are potentially relevant for why employers put off registering their employees.

  • To register their business, employers must log into the system and input information. Then, they must upload information about their employees. OregonSaves has taken a lot of steps to make this process easy. Even still, when people perceive something as a hassle, they are more like to put it off.

  • Some employers may not fully understand the program. For example, some might think they are exempt when in reality they are not, or they might be unsure of what is required of them. This uncertainty also increases the likelihood that some will procrastinate.

  • Others may simply forget. Employers have 30 days to register their business, which may feel like a long time, but in reality that is plenty of time to put the task off and forget about it.


We hypothesized that by making the employer requirement and deadline more salient, more employers would register their employees within the deadline. We also hypothesized that presenting the choice as a “pseudo-active choice” would convey to employers that they have to take some action, thus encouraging even more employers to respond by the deadline.

To test our hypotheses, we first re-designed and simplified the initial notice that the program sends to employers. We simplified the language, made the “Respond Today” button larger, and tried to make the deadline more salient. We also tested a second version which aimed to reinforce the idea that a response was required. We split the “Respond Today” button into two buttons – “Register for OregonSaves” and “Certify Exemption.” We thought two buttons might signal to employers that they must choose one or the other; they cannot choose to ignore the process.


We did not see any statistically significant differences between the total rate of registration between the two versions of the employer notice. In fact, employers who received the notice that presented a pseudo-active choice may have actually taken longer to respond compared to those receiving the single-button version. Employers receiving the registration email with one button responded, on average, 4 days earlier than those receiving the email with two buttons. We saw this increase was mostly driven by a much higher registration rate on the first day they received the notice.

Presenting employers with two buttons was intended to signal that they needed to make a choice. Instead, providing two options may have signaled that taking an action required them to make a decision. Employers who should register instead hesitated and then procrastinated - we saw that the version with two buttons had a higher bounce rate and these employers were slightly more likely to register just before the deadline. Providing just one option makes just starting the process easier.