EXCLUSIVE: On Wednesday 28 November 2018, London-based publishing organisation Hachette held a workplace pension engagement session at its office on Victoria Embankment, which included seminars, one-to-one chats, and artists drawing ‘future self’ caricatures.
Workplace pensions provider Aegon and pension communications organisation Pension Geeks joined Hachette at its head offices to provide education, guidance and support to its 930 London-based employees.
With a workforce of predominantly 25 to 40-year-olds, many of whom are graduates in their first job, Hachette’s efforts to boost engagement stem from an understanding that pensions may not be a key priority for many younger employees.
Catherine Wells, HR director at Hachette, said: “The aim was to engage and educate people in pensions. It’s an area that people are nervous about asking questions, aware that they don’t have a depth of knowledge. All of us feel a bit wary about pensions, and lots of people feel that it doesn’t really apply. It’s about trying to give people information in a way that’s engaging.”
To boost interest and engagement, the programme was tailored for Hachette with the addition of caricaturists. Their drawings, which depicted images of individuals involved in activities they enjoy, were aimed at providing a fun, accessible route into a conversation about how to plan for a comfortable retirement.
“The fun stuff just makes it easier for people to ask questions that they might think are stupid,” said Wells. “This sort of opportunity gives people a better chance to ask questions that they might feel self-conscious about asking in a group.”
Throughout the day, Aegon’s advisers conducted three seminars. These were approximately half an hour long, and covered a wide range of information, including outlining basics about contribution rates, auto-enrolment, tax considerations and the rules around transfers.
The speakers then went on to explain specifics about Hachette’s workplace pension, outlining the enhanced structure on offer, and how much increasing contributions would cost in real terms. Employees were also taught about using Aegon’s platform and services.
During these sessions, attendees were able to pick up forms to increase their contributions, were provided with suggested calls to action, and were reminded of the presence of members of Aegon Assist, the provider’s consultation service, who were available for one-to-one conversations throughout the day.
The consultations and caricature drawings took place in Hachette’s coffee shop and canteen area. Around 120 caricatures were drawn, and approximately 65 individuals sought tips and information from Aegon. Experts from Pension Geeks were also able to speak to employees about matters outside of their workplace scheme, such as state pensions. Hachette’s staff were also able to make appointments for extended conversations, be referred on for formal advice, and get help activating online profiles.
Jonathan Bland, co-founder of Pension Geeks, said: “One of the team had a 45-minute meeting with [an employee], or there’s some people who just want a presentation [in the seminar] because that’s what they’re used to, or you can drop in and have a chat and a coffee.
“Either way, they’ve got a relationship now. You can see people are smiling; it’s serious, but also friendly and warm.”
The engagement day was promoted to employees via emails, messages on the staff intranet, leaflets, posters and information dispersed through the wellbeing network.
This initiative forms part of Hachette’s wider approach to financial education, which has included training on how to save money for retirement, as well as providing information on will writing, power of attorney and eldercare, among other topics.
Suzanne McHattie, senior marketing change communications at Aegon, said: “You get a real mix of people, from those who don’t know anything, or people that are really clued up and want to know their options. For me, it’s about just trying to be really supportive.
“It’s been really good for breaking down the barriers. People have a little bit more confidence, and the knowledge to go and do it now.”
Ronnie Taylor, chief distribution officer at Aegon, commented: “It is vital that businesses provide the means for staff to make informed decisions about their pension savings, whether they are just starting out or nearing retirement age. Engagement with workplace pension savings can boost employee’s financial wellbeing and can be a tool to help employers to attract and retain talent.”