In this week's blog: The age profile of your company might affect the way you communicate with your staff about pensions. Find out what the results of our survey show about how you can ensure your pension communications appeal to younger workers, as well as older staff:
You are sitting on the train.
Opposite you, a young woman is looking focused, typing on her laptop.
But she’s not working. She is looking over her credit card bill, reviewing her monthly budget and checking her latest pension statement.
One by one, she works through payments she wants to look into, and adds some notes for herself.
If you are over the age of 45, chances are that you have never done financial housekeeping on your commute.
According to a recent survey we conducted of 2,000 UK employees between the ages of 16 and 65, just 12% of people in this age bracket have.
But amongst people under the age of 45, the figure is 37%.
The younger cohort is also much more likely to do their financial housekeeping on their lunch break (44% of under 45s vs 20% of those over 45).
If you are trying to get your staff to save more, this has implications for your pensions communications.
You see, the vast majority of people do their financial housekeeping in the evening, at home, or on the weekend.
But younger people are far more likely to do this task on-the-go, on the way into work or on a break (as I wrote recently, the boundaries between work and home life can be far more blurry for digital natives).
If you have lots of staff members under 45, this might affect the way you communicate with them about pensions. After all, you want to make it easy for everyone to be financially responsible!
You might, for example, consider arranging for to send their pensions comms both to their homes and to work, so that they can access the information easily wherever they are.
And you might consider whether the format of your comms is suitable if they are trying to read it on a bus with no table…. Stuck in a tunnel with no Internet access….Or in a very noisy, busy environment.
These are questions of design and channel – not necessarily content – but if you are looking to engage your staff with pensions, they are crucial to consider.
Here are three more notable findings from our survey, which may impact your pension comms:
1. Words or images?
46% of respondents over the age of 45 wanted pension information to be conveyed in words rather than images. The proportion was much lower – just 36% - amongst those under the age of 45.
Meanwhile, the younger group was much more interested in imagery than the older group (14% to 4%). They were also keener on scenarios that could help them envisage the future (26% to 21%).
As well as worded explanations, both cohorts wanted information conveyed through numbers (24% amongst the younger group, 28% amongst the older group).
While of course, there are no hard-and-fast rules about what individuals in each group might prefer, it might be sensible to make comms aimed at younger staff less wordy, and to include more imagery and scenarios which might resonate with them.
And if you are sending out one piece of content to your entire workforce, is there a format which would allow people to choose how they want to access the information? For example, you might produce one basic piece of collateral and refer people who want more detail to an additional resource like a supplementary web page or seminar.
Make sure everyone can access the information in a way that will resonate with them.
2. When should you talk about pensions?
84% of workers of all ages wanted to talk about their pensions when changes happen to their salary. And everyone wanted to hear about their pension when they started and left their job.
But younger workers were much keener to talk about their pension at other points, as well:
The point of recruitment - 71% of younger workers were in favour, compared to 31% of older workers
The start and end of the tax year – 71% of younger workers were in favour, compared to 35% of older workers
During performance discussions or remunerations discussions with managers
All of this indicates that there are many opportunities to bring up pensions with staff members under the age of 45, which are possibly not exploited frequently enough.
This may be because respondents in this age bracket seemed more unsure of their pension situation (20% did not know how much they contribute, compared to 13% of over-45s), and are anxious for more information.
So do not be afraid of over-communicating. Younger workers, in particular, are generally more open to it.
But although increased communication can be a good thing, you should try and think carefully about the best way to handle in-person conversations, as your managers are not necessarily equipped or qualified to deal with them. A presentation by a professional may be a better solution.
3. What messaging should you use?
In our survey, people under the age of 45 said that they would react to a piece of communication or marketing around pensions if it made them feel strong emotions, like excitement (81%), guilt (39%), and fear (45%).
Older people claimed to be less likely to respond to strongly emotive material. Only 72% said they would respond to excitement, 26% to guilt and 32% to fear.
In our experience, marketing which provokes emotion is always more successful than logical facts and figures.
So I recommend that you take the under-45’s at their word, and make your pensions comms more emotional when targeting them.
For example, when you talk about their future as pensioners, can you paint a picture of what life without enough money to live on might look like? Can you get them excited about living a retirement they really enjoy….?
Test carefully how your older staff respond to more emotional content, too. The vast majority seemed to be receptive to pensions comms that engendered positive emotions like excitement.
And while many claimed to shy away from content that invokes negative emotions, that often has the most powerful effect in marketing. It is worth seeing how your over-45’s respond to it, in reality.
Last but not least, a vast majority of all age groups said that they would respond well to pensions comms that show they were receiving value-for-money – so make more of this line of messaging!