For most people, a pension pot is the second largest financial consideration after the purchase of their home. Yet research shows that many company scheme members are often unaware of the value of their pension benefits. Contributor David Boardman, Director of Communications and Engagement – MyCSP.
A company pension scheme causes mixed emotions: retirement and financial planning are often perceived to be ‘frightening’, ‘boring’, ‘complex’ and ‘complicated’. Yet a good company pension scheme should be viewed as one of the very best benefits offered to employees. At a time when fewer people are saving for retirement, good pension communications are arguably now more important than ever.
Turning the tables on how your employees view your company pension scheme is not only important in helping them to plan for their futures, but it is important for employee engagement too, helping employees feel valued which in turn can help recruit and retain the brightest and best.
So what can be done to change the traditional view of retirement planning so that employees actively engage with the pension schemes you offer? There are a surprising number of ways in which pension communications can be transformed so they are not only informative, but also engaging and fun.
Pique their interest
The biggest hurdle is always getting people to engage in the first place – whether this is reading written communications, understanding their annual benefit statement, or visiting the relevant page on your company website. Using the tried and trusted marketing tool of A.I.D.A. (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is the key.
Pensions may scream sepia in tone so to break down preconceptions it pays to communicate in glorious technicolour. The most important place to try this out is at the initial contact, the place where you want to pique initial interest. Tabloid headlines, attention grabbing graphics, great photography and alliteration all play their part.
Those of us working in the world of pensions have become adept at working with words of multiple syllables – actuarial reduction, anyone? Yet much enjoyment can be had turning seemingly dull terminology on its head. ‘Annual benefit statement’, ‘death benefit nominee’ – where can these phrases be worked into poems, famous lines from plays, song lyrics or even lines from films? Take what scares or bores people the most and make it fun.
Cutting through swathes of jargon and demystifying the world of pensions is key. ITV’s Love Island is a good analogy to use here. If you don’t watch the show and so don’t know the phrases commonly used (fleek, mugged off anyone?), you can feel lost. However, have someone explain the lingo and suddenly it all makes sense.
Finding a theme
Whether your audience prefers movies, musicals, music or television, choosing one theme around which you can frame all your communications is a tried and tested method that gets results. It also gives ample opportunity to spice up your communications with music, imagery, famous phrases or (if you are feeling brave) costumes.
Tailor the information you provide
Simple quizzes are a useful tool in which to both engage employees and direct them to information that is best suited to them. Ask employees to take a quiz so they can find out how much they know, then give them a ‘persona’ depending on their knowledge. Then, depending on their ‘persona’ (if they know a lot, or very little) you can then direct them to punchy, pithy fast facts accordingly.
Added to this can be sample ‘characters’ each representing different types of employee and their home / work lives. For example, a newly wed buying his or her first house, someone who is considering early retirement, or someone who has become a parent for the first time. Their considerations will be different depending on their stage of life, and information should be tailored to their needs. Buying an AVC may not be high on the list when you’re trying to buy your first home.
Bang that drum
Don’t deliver your message once. A regular drum beat of information is essential if you are to successfully engage employees throughout their careers. And if you have a soundtrack linked to your pension communications (pension playlist anyone?), you can literally bang that drum. Make sure communications are eye catching and bold with relatable content that catches the eye.
Finally, be brave and have some fun. These are all tried and tested methods that have seen thousands engage with company pension schemes that otherwise wouldn’t have done so. If you are to break down those commonly held preconceptions surrounding retirement planning, it pays to be bold.