Experts Talk: Pension Communications

The next in the series of ‘Experts talk’, the Caburn Hope team discuss what it takes to engage your employees and influence behavioural change through effective communications.

Marketing and PR Manager Emily Brewer speaks to Account Manager and pension communication expert Tina Highsted to find out how to launch a successful pension roll-out or update.

Emily: In your experience, what makes a successful pension communication strategy?

Tina: Pensions can often be a dry subject and one of the hardest to communicate company-wide. But a strategy that’s to-the-point and in ‘plain English’ is critical to the success of a project. Employees live in a multi-device world that is often mobile (in more ways than one!) so your strategy needs to take advantage of all the channels available to you. Pensions are complex and changeable, but they’re also one of the biggest assets a company can offer. Always consider the demographics of your employees and tailor your messaging and channels according to preferences. There is no one size fits all approach!

Emily: What are your top tips for an effective pension roll-out or update?

Tina: Define your audience - and always segment data to analyse demographics before drawing up any plan. Younger generations may feel more disengaged about pensions, than say, Baby Boomers or Gen Xers so you need to tailor your communications to accommodate this. Otherwise it’s a costly mistake!

Consistent messaging – remember consistency isn’t just for marketing. The same rule applies here. Deliver on ‘your promise’ and keep it simple and succinct.

Align with brand values and EVP - communications must fall in-line with your brand values and EVP. Fail to tie this into your strategy and you run the risk of being off-brand, inconsistent and irrelevant to the overall commercial vision; and that’s not a conversation you want to have with your brand and internal communications team!

Emily: When it comes to pension communications, what’s important to employees?

Tina: The potential value of a company pension scheme is very important to people. So, communicate the benefits - whether that’s monetary value or non-monetary value – and what it means to them as an individual. Your strategy should be future-facing and ideally include features like modelling tools to help employees plan for their future.

Emily: Who should ideally be involved in the project?

Tina: Internal comms – for brand and messaging consistency; the pension team / trustee – if available within the company; plan administrator – they will have the data to segment the demographics of your employees; and a creative / comms partner and internal team – to bring on-brand ideas to life and support one of the most important employee communication journeys you will undertake.

Emily: What are the exciting developments in this field?

Tina: The changes that are happening in pensions post-budget are pretty exciting in terms of giving employees more freedom and choice. Companies will need to ensure they ‘tick all the boxes’ and unravel the layers of complexity to communicate this succinctly. In addition, auto-enrolment has been hugely successful as it certainly makes life easier for the employee. The industry is, without a doubt, evolving for the better and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Emily: Where do you see the future of pension communications going?

Tina: If I had to look into my comms crystal ball (!), I’d have to say digital will be more of a focus in terms of channel prioritisation. A pension strategy that is integrated with a mobile app featuring the employee’s personal plan - that’s linked to market rates - would be ideal. It would enable employees to keep up-to-date with the potential monetary value of their pension in real-time.

For the short-term though, we’ll definitely see better and more accurate modellers for future planning; with more of a focus on the flexible choices on how to take your retirement fund. Now, that would definitely engage employees and increase productivity!

Emily: In your opinion, are there any companies that are ‘doing it right’?

Tina: Telefónica! The company has a very clear, concise and relevant, pension communications strategy; allowing employees to keep up-to-date with the constant changes and company news. Sainsbury’s is also making waves in terms of tailoring messaging to its workforce. Their pension site is nicely branded and very easy to understand.

For more information on how to effectively roll-out a pension update, please click here.