October saw the debut of Workie, the star of the government’s campaign to raise awareness of auto-enrolment and increase engagement with workplace pensions. Workie, “a striking physical embodiment of the workplace pension”, is appearing on billboards, television screens and, most likely, a Twitter feed near you. Reactions have been mixed, and while it will take some time to gauge whether the campaign has had the intended impact and reach, it has certainly got people talking.
Pensions, and any measures used to drive engagement with them, are an integral part of employees’ financial support system in retirement. Yet there is growing recognition that, while key, they are not the only piece of the savings puzzle, nor the only issue on employees’ radars.
Last month, for example, the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) rebranded as the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) in response to the increasingly varied ways in which people save for retirement and the blurring of the line between work and retirement.
Meanwhile, in its Pension freedom guidance and advice report, the Work and Pensions Committee called for a more holistic Pension Wise service, noting that “decisions about retirement income products are not best made in isolation from information on property wealth, benefit entitlements, tax implications, care costs or debts”.
However, this multitude of considerations can mount up to a multitude of concerns for employees. Indeed, research published by Equiniti Employee Services in October 2015 found that 81% of respondents face everyday financial challenges. The triggers for financial angst range from getting on the housing ladder to paying off mortgages, and from clearing debts to being able to afford to retire.
The causes of financial stress will likely vary over the span of an individual’s lifetime as their priorities shift and their situation changes. A growing number of employers are beginning to address the issue, with the support of increasingly responsive products and services.
Research by Axa PPP Healthcare, published in April 2015, found that financial worries are the second biggest cause of stress among respondents (26%), second only to high workload (45%), and they are the leading cause of stress in senior managers (34%). Surely the more support available to help staff cope with the myriad financial issues they may encounter the better.