Employee Benefits Awards 2012: Most effective pensions communications strategy

Electronic Arts, My Future, entered by Thomsons Online Benefits

Electronic Arts’ creative and fun strategy was designed to engage younger employees with pensions.

It decided to take action after a review of its pension scheme in April 2011 revealed that 66% of staff had signed up to the scheme, but just 43% of employees aged between 20 and 30 were members. The company wanted to increase take-up ahead of auto-enrolment and compliance with the pension reforms ahead of its staging date.

Its My Future campaign, which focused on educating employees about their pension and why it is important, included an online quiz on how much more value a pension has if employees start saving early, and pension education workshops followed by one-to-one sessions. The firm also held confident-investor sessions for employees who were familiar with the basics.

An online modelling tool provided staff with a step-by-step guide to setting up their pension, giving support and guidance in an accessible format, such as video clips. It also provided risk profiling, salary sacrifice modelling, frequently asked questions (FAQs) and guidance on choosing funds.

The communications campaign increased overall membership of the pension scheme from 66% to 71% in one month. Meanwhile, take-up among employees aged between 20 and 30 increased from 43% to 63%. One judge said: “[It was] dealing with an audience that can be extremely difficult.”

Melanie Crowther, director of HR operations, said: “We purposely didn’t mention the word pension in any of our communications. We were trying to get to those core employees who had never engaged.”


Heineken, Heineken UK Flexible Retirement Plan
This entrant successfully communicated tough messages related to the closure of its defined benefit (DB) pension scheme and introduction of a defined contribution (DC) scheme. Objectives included getting staff to understand why pension change is essential, how the changes would affect them, and the benefits of the new scheme.

Kantar World Panel, Complements
Moving all its benefits onto a new portal meant this entrant could communicate its group personal pension effectively. The Complements-branded portal means pension scheme members can now access online enrolment, updates on fund values, interactive modelling tools and the ability to complete transactions online.

Ove Arup and Partners International, Investing for Later in Life, entered by Ferrier Pearce
This entrant had to engage employees with its new group personal pension after closing its final salary scheme to all staff. It needed staff to embrace extra involvement in their investment options and contributing to their pension. It did this by putting even the most complex decisions into a format employees could relate to.

Railways Pension Scheme, Railways Pension Scheme (RPS), entered by RPMI
To support its printed publications, this entrant has online communications, including a tool that highlights text as it is read, supporting staff with limited literacy, learning difficulties or English as a second language. Quick-response technology is embedded into printed matter.

Verizon, Verizon (UK) Retirement Plan, entered by Johnson Fleming
Last year, Verizon introduced a group personal pension for its UK staff. The scheme, with an annual management charge of 0.3%, is administered via an online platform, which manages and records key communications. These include issuing scheme literature and ensuring staff receive the right support five years before retirement.

Read more about the Employee Benefits Awards 2012