Engaging staff with their pensions – keep it simple

The job offers are accepted, new starters join the ranks of a company and they go into their workplace pension scheme. Brilliant – job done! In fact, it’s just the start. Many people don’t feel they understand or have the confidence to engage with their pension, and not just new joiners.

Over the last 6 months, we’ve all felt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges of lockdown. After a shock like that, people may be feeling uncertain, they might have spent time on furlough and decided to stop paying into their pensions for a while.

Key role for advisers to bridge the gaps

Advisers play an essential part in supporting employers to help staff see the value of their pension. They can also help to coordinate conversations that help employees realise the value of this important benefit and provide better financial planning to support them on their journey.  Additionally, spending time with an employer to really understand their culture, and the day-to-day issues they face – especially staffing related – is the foundation needed to build a successful pensions engagement plan in support of an employer’s business ambitions.

HR teams are likely to be faced with lots of enquiries from employees about their pensions, but in fact advisers often support them by highlighting how much information members can get quickly and easily themselves by going online.

By registering online, employees can ensure their details are always up to date, allowing providers to engage and support with simple tools to help them take control and plan for their financial futures.

For example, completing online beneficiary nominations helps avoid potential complications and distress between a member’s loved ones and their employer’s HR department if they die before taking their pension – especially if their life circumstances are complex. And encouraging pot consolidation to simplify arrangements, and potentially benefit from lower management costs, can also demonstrate the value of their workplace pension.

Keep it simple and flexible

A key lesson from industry research is that most members (and employers) want things to be simple and don’t want too much complex information. Staff are also more likely to read information sent directly from their employer rather than a pension provider. According to the latest The People’s Pension Customer Barometer1, 97% of employers said having a simple approach to communications was important.

Flexibility is key to communicating simple messages for employees who just want the comfort of knowing support is there, as well as for colleagues who want to delve into all the detail and potential options.  

At The People’s Pension, we avoid jargon in our communications, using everyday language to make information more accessible. Our website provides key information and facilities to amend personal details, nominate beneficiaries, change fund choice and retirement age, whilst signposting supports decision making and appropriate pot consolidation.

Our communications toolkit offers advisers a variety of materials when developing an effective engagement plan with:

  • templated campaign schedules
  • warm-up emails and letters
  • posters, booklets
  • payslip messaging
  • and signposting to online animations and videos guides.

So, when it comes to engaging staff with their pensions, it’s all about keeping it simple. We can all work together to make a positive difference by developing a successful roadmap which can help reduce HR time, increase understanding and appreciation of staff benefits such as pensions, enable employees to take care of simple queries, and build confidence to know where to go for support when decisions need to be made.

Join our online events for more on staff engagement

This autumn we’re running online events exploring the benefits of engaging staff on pension issues and how to make best use of available material and online resources. If you’re interested, email us at RRM@bandce.co.uk or call 0333 230 1309.

All it takes is a conversation

It’s Dementia Action Week 2019 and the Alzheimer’s Society’s brilliant campaign (#DAW2019 #AskUsAnything) has inspired me to share my story of becoming a Dementia Friend and Champion.

With 4 Dementia Champions and at least 50 Dementia Friends colleagues at The People’s Pension, we think this is a great way of looking out for our customers, our colleagues and their family and friends. Dementia Friends is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia.

All walks of life

So, back in October last year I used one of my volunteering days (at B&CE, provider of The People’s Pension) to attend an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Champion induction session in Brighton. What an amazing day, learning something new with a lovely group of people from all walks of life. It was both interesting and inspiring to hear why everyone in the group had chosen to be there.

Our group, ready to learn more about dementia, included a front of house theatre manager, several people from social care groups and Sussex care homes, a veterinary nurse passionate about the bond between humans and animals and a fabulous company called Pedal People – they take care home residents out in bike trailers to enjoy the wind in their hair and feel the sun on their faces. Lovely stuff.

Raising awareness of dementia

It really helps to understand the challenges people face living with dementia and the simple things we can do to help. Those challenges might include feeling anxious or stressed and fear of not being able to remember things, follow conversations or concentrate on anything, every-day tasks included.

Keeping people’s busy daily schedules in mind, especially our phone-based teams taking calls from customers, we produced an online training module. This means anyone can log on, at a time to suit their schedule, and learn more about dementia. It doesn’t mean they’ll become an expert – and they’re not expected to. But, by taking 5 or 10 minutes out of their day, the module gives them access to industry-specific online videos from the Alzheimer’s Society.

Small things, big difference

Every little counts and we’re delighted to be doing our bit towards creating dementia-friendly communities and transforming the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia.

Too many people affected by dementia feel that society fails to understand the condition they live with. Dementia Friends help by raising awareness and understanding, so that people living with the condition can continue to live in the way they want. And who doesn’t deserve that.

Becoming a volunteer Dementia Friend means joining and becoming part of a social action movement.

The ‘action’ doesn’t have to be anything big, it might be something as simple as:

  • sharing something you’ve seen about dementia on social media
  • changing the language you use when talking to or about someone with dementia eg saying ‘living with dementia’ not ‘suffering with dementia’.

800,000 people in the UK live with dementia and this is expected to double in the next 40 years. Food for thought.

Go on, become a Dementia Friend.

Talking about money? It’s a generational thing

Would you happily chat to your colleagues – or your boss – about money? For many of us, the “m” word’s a taboo subject.

To make the best decisions about our future it’s crucial we’re able to talk about finances and understand the options. I’m therefore pleased to see that employers are starting to view financial wellbeing and retirement planning as part of their responsibility towards staff. It’s great news for creating a more open culture. But it seems there are some big differences between the generations when it comes to discussing money.

Employers step up to the plate

In my work for The People’s Pension, I speak to employers up and down the country. I’m seeing something of a groundswell of companies understanding the importance of financial education. Many are keen to go beyond simply enrolling their staff into pensions and making sure they’re aware of their pension (although that’s a great start of course). They’re encouraging their staff to actively engage with their retirement planning and think about the bigger financial picture.

How they do this varies, with employers taking a whole range of different approaches to turn the tables on apathy. Some are investing in late-life planning and communication programmes at various stages, providing life skills as well as paying salaries. Others don’t do much for people earlier on in their careers.

Preparing for retirement is seen not just as an issue for individuals but also for the wider business and jobs market. Some affluent older employees may be “rich” thanks to defined benefit pension schemes but this picture’s likely to change for future generations. Some workers face more challenging circumstances and end up in a position where they can’t afford to retire. If older employees stay forever and a day because they have no other choice, it can cause problems for businesses if it limits new talent coming through or leads to health issues.

Older but not wiser?

During a recent enlightening discussion with employers, they talked about the polarised attitudes of older and younger generations. Millennials are apparently happier to air their “dirty laundry” and have a different, more open attitude towards money than many of their older colleagues. I was pleasantly surprised to hear how younger staff at one company had loved financial awareness training and debt consolidation courses!

Millennials are also more interested in where their money is invested – something we should be mindful of as an industry when we consider things like Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria. For the majority of people thinking about their pensions, return on investment remains king but perhaps this perspective will evolve with future generations.

Stopping taboo by simply talking  

The importance of planning for a comfortable retirement is firmly entrenched in my mind. As an organisation, The People’s Pension is dedicated to creating simplicity for our customers and making sure both employers and employees understand how their pensions work and what all the sometimes scary jargon around financial products means for them. We want our customers to be as actively engaged with their pensions and retirement savings as possible. It’s great to see that many employers want the same for their staff.

I’ll do all I can to support this movement so more of us think about the future and are able to afford to retire or reduce our workloads when we choose to. Talking about money is a good place to start.

Steven is a former National Business Development Manager for B&CE, provider of The People’s Pension. He has been replaced by Duncan Reeves.