` Top tips for communicating with employees about retirement | Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA)
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06 Apr 2022
by Jacquelyn Thompson

Top tips for communicating with employees about retirement

Timing of retirement communications is vital and messages vary from person to person

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Designing communications that can accommodate all employees is no easy task. One of the biggest challenges is timing. However, knowing what else might be going on in an individual’s life or what type of provisions they have made for retirement is almost impossible, outside of an advice or guidance process. 
The golden rule in these circumstances is to create messages with a goal in mind. Support this with generic research to help identify the most appropriate times to deliver these messages and you are well on the path to supporting employees approaching retirement.
The good news is employees approaching retirement are likely to engage more with messages about pensions, particularly as access to money is always a good motivator for getting someone’s attention.  Although this doesn’t mean you should wait until your employees are close to retirement before discussing these plans and there is strong evidence that engaging as early as possible increases the potential for individuals to understand and trust the information you provide. 

Keep it simple 
The topic of retirement is confusing. Keep your message simple, reassuring (without coming across as patronising) and with a clear goal or outcome so that the recipient is sure of what they can or need to do.  Making the communications easy to digest and consistent (keeping the tone of voice, for example) by creating a series can also be a good way of educating employees on such a complex area of pensions.  
Designing a communication plan that helps an employee feel a sense of ownership as soon as they make a contribution is a great start and communications that follow should link into a retirement goal if possible, creating a flow of conversation in the lead up to planning and eventually retiring.  
Many individuals prefer to receive support face to face or at least verbally, as this can help them ease any personal concerns. Others may prefer to self-educate by using online tools or educational material. By using a variety of media to deliver communications, the scope for personalising your message increases, which again not only offers comfort to those you are trying to support but is also shown to increase engagement levels. 

Timing is key
For those far from retirement, communications can be more tailored, demonstrating the reasons for saving to including topical issues such as environmental investing, for example. Stronger emphasis on goal setting for retirement and planning can be reserved for those closer to retirement, although it’s also important to note that retirement isn’t a cliff edge and many closer to retirement might need further encouragement to save or support with plans.  
Employers may not be aware of what else is going on in employees’ lives but it’s worth considering what you do know. Working within these limits is a great start in helping to identify the best times to communicate specific messages. There is a significant benefit in timing messages to coincide with bonus payments or pay rises for example and communications around these times can help employees plan better for retirement and those saving. 
Make time for your employees to understand their own position and provide links to wider support services where possible. Involve them in the conversation as this is particularly useful if dealing with employees with more specific needs, such as a language barrier or disability. 
Specific needs don’t just stop at the obvious. Some of us are less confident than others about managing finances and it is not easy to identify this.  Making time for individuals to select their own support requirements is essential for success as well as ensuring the support available is accessible. For example, organising a seminar with wheelchair access, or creating an online video with subtitles.

Technology and Research/data
Use all the technology and research available to truly understand the nature and demographics of your organisation from google analytics to marketing tools and even pension providers data. These can help you to identify any of the more specific issues employees may be facing, some of which can be tackled with communications while others may indicate a need for a more face to face or hand holding approach.
In summary, the best way to design inclusive communications that support employees approaching retirement is to keep it simple, accessible and acknowledge that every path to retirement is unique and timing of your message essential. 

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