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09 May 2023
by Josh Hayes

How to boost pension engagement and improve retirement for all ages

The way that employees regard pension planning is key to a good retirement. Employer communication has a vital role in boosting that planning

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Employers are increasingly regarding pension provision as only one element of their workplace benefits strategy to support employee financial wellbeing.

Pensions, however, remain the one universal financial benefit all employees are likely to need to engage with during their career and so determining the best way to engage, educate and empower employees is key.

Every employee has unique needs based on age, income, role, lifestyle and personal priorities. Combine this with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and it is easy to see why employees might sometimes put pension planning on the back burner.

Where your employees are on the road to retirement and where retirement sits in their list of financial priorities will differ significantly and the messages and support they need will vary considerably.

Become the trusted voice

The biggest role the employer can play is to become the trusted voice in supporting employees with their financial goals. Communication is imperative and more important is how you communicate.

For example, for younger employees, fresh into the workforce, the purpose of communication is to help them understand the basics of pensions and how their actions now can significantly benefit them in the years ahead. Simply becoming a member and embarking on their retirement savings is enough.

Their focus may be on short-to-medium term financial objectives and there is research to show that by helping employees manage their money better day-to-day, you can improve their confidence in achieving their long term financial objectives too.

The key is that the communication doesn’t stop there; it should be a continual process of engagement as they move through their life and career. The focus of the communication moves with them.

This means that as employees reach their career/income peak, with higher spending, you ensure they have the tools to build a robust plan and budget and are committed to taking the actions needed achieve their desired results. Saving towards pension then goes from something they do with minimal engagement, knowing starting is enough, to having a specific goal or outcome they are monitoring and owning.

Shaping later life

And once the employee enters the latter stages of their career, helping them to shape their version of later life, whether total retirement or otherwise, will not only give them confidence in their financial outcome, it will also give them a sense of purpose and optimism for life after work. Psychologically, having a clear vision for that future state is key to helping people get there.

We have a wide range of platforms and tools employers can use to make pension communication more relevant and much less dull jargon. Pension and pizza working groups, podcasts, videos and 1-2-1s can all be part of a robust communication strategy to support employees regardless of what stage of pension planning they are – just ensure you are targeting and deliberate in your approach and how you ask employees to connect.

Key points

  • 1. Understand your workforce. It is unique and the messages your employees need will differ from other organisations and even from employee to employee. You have a wealth of data to hand to assess what the priorities may be for your workforce. Looking at contribution levels and pension pot values across demographics will help determine if employees are on track for good retirement outcomes and enable you to target communications appropriately.
  • 2. Segment communications to hit the right people, at the right time, with the right messages. The strategy needs to put the member first: is pension their priority right now? And if you don’t know the answer, make part of the work building up that picture of your people.
  • 3. Be innovative to reach all your employees and inspire them to get excited about their retirement planning. The key is focusing on their needs and understanding their barriers to engagement with the topic – help them to solve their problems and they will be a captive audience.
  • 4. Diversify your approach to communication to reach all of your audiences: different employees will want to receive messages differently.

A robust, creative and targeted approach to communication will enable you to engage, educate and empower your workforce to improve their financial wellbeing, by helping them to manage their money day-to-day, prepare for the unexpected and plan for their futures, from their first day on the job to their last.

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Howden provides insurance broking, risk management and claims consulting services, globally. We work with clients of all sizes to provide dedicated employee benefits & wellbeing consultancy.

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