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14 Nov 2023
by Steve Watson

10 ways better communication can boost pension engagement

The best way to improve employee engagement with pensions is to help them understand them better

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Pensions are confusing and employees are confused. But they don't have to be. By enhancing your communications, you could help employees feel more at home with their workplace pensions and more willing to engage

Pension communications checklist

1. Remove jargon

Always use plain English. Assume people aren’t familiar with technical terms and, if you can’t avoid using them, explain them.

Jargon risks alienating people who don’t understand, which often drives them further away. Especially in pensions, misunderstandings can have far-reaching consequences, so make sure everyone’s on the same page. Cushon’s research suggests that 53% of employees would save more into their pension if they understood it better.

2. Do one thing at a time

Pensions can be complex, so there’s a risk of overwhelming people if we bring it all up at once. You might start by asking people to add a beneficiary, or ask if they know how employer contributions work. Whatever you do, focus on one thing at a time and build from there. A series of one email a month with one clear instruction each time will do a far better job than a standalone email with an epic to-do list.

3. Adapt to your audience

Are you talking to high-net-worth individuals who are used to investing? Or young workers with more immediate financial challenges like getting on the housing ladder?

Your message needs to reflect your audience and that audience may vary. Cater to different confidence levels, wealth and circumstances by adapting your communications. While beginners will need more educational content and support before they’ll engage, more advanced employees might like investment insights and opportunities to vote.

4. Make it real and relevant

Pensions are usually kept at a distance, so you need to bring them into focus and give people reasons to pay attention. It’s not difficult to engage older employees because retirement is on the horizon, but people need to start saving much earlier.

One task is to fully explain why that is, giving employees interactive tools and projections that make the benefits tangible. Another task is to give timely information when an employee’s situation changes, like explaining how savings would be affected by a career break.

5. Use an approachable tone

How you say something can be just as important as what you say. You want to set people at ease and make it feel natural for them to relate to what you’re saying, so conversational is better than overly serious.

6. Use appropriate channels

Make it easy for people to engage by finding them where they are. Use whichever medium suits the message you’re trying to send out. And if your pension has an app, make the most of nudges to get important information across.

People learn differently so consider accessibility for content. For example, the written word works well for most people, but not all. Webinars and visual aids are more helpful to some employees and 1-2-1 meetings can be even better.

7. Be transparent

Talking about people’s money is a sensitive topic, so to keep their trust and prevent any panics, honesty is important. This is especially true when things aren’t going as well as we’d like them to, for example during a cost-of-living crisis.

To help people stay calm when they manage their money – and prevent any knee-jerk financial decisions – be transparent about what’s happening. Pensions are long-term investments so, even if the stock markets are volatile today, they’ll almost certainly settle down eventually.

8. Take pride in ESG credentials

For many employees, saving in line with the environment is the most engaging part of pensions. Our research suggests that 88% of employees want their workplace pension to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. If yours does, publicise it and give your employees something to be proud of. Assets people can see and understand – wind farms and forest projects, for example – make for the most engaging ESG stories.

9. Ask the team about their needs

More than likely, pensions won’t be the only area your employees are wondering about. So why not ask what their priorities are – what they’re thinking about, planning for, worried about – and follow up with guidance. Helping someone get unstuck in the present gives them more headspace to think about the future, driving them to engage with their pension.

10. Test and learn to improve

Monitor your communications’ performance and trust in the data. It’s crucial to understand what works and what doesn’t, especially as people’s needs are always changing, so set your metrics early and keep on reviewing.

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In partnership with Cushon

Cushon is an online savings&investments platform provider, offering holistic workplace savings.

Contact us today