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Cost-of-living crisis, Employee Engagement

UK Pension Awareness: Debunking myths and improving employee engagement

The cost-of-living crisis has significantly impacted people’s financial habits, with two-fifths of people in the UK either stopping or reducing savings and investments to cover daily expenses. 51% of people are prioritising their immediate needs and wants over their future financial security. This short-term focus, coupled with a significant lack of engagement in, and understanding of, pensions, is changing the landscape of workplace savings. 

Only one-third of people have a rough idea of the state pension amount, and fewer than one-third know the exact figure. And although automatic enrolment means more people have a private pension, the perennial problem remains that employees are not saving enough for the retirement lifestyle they want.  

The rising cost-of-living has also prompted the Pension & Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) to revise its estimations of the savings needed to fund different levels of retirement. Rising costs, along with a desire among retirees to support their grandchildren financially, have increased the income required for a moderate retirement by over 34% (£8,000 more per annum). The PLSA now estimates that a single person needs £14,400 a year for a minimum income, £31,300 for a moderate lifestyle, and £43,100 a year for a comfortable retirement. Couples, on the other hand, require an annual income of £22,400 at the minimum level, £43,100 at a moderate level, and £59,000 at a comfortable level. 

Pension Awareness Week, taking place from September 9th to 13th, aims to improve financial wellbeing by raising awareness about the importance of pensions. In preparation, we wanted to explore common pension misconceptions and share how employers can improve employee engagement to ultimately help employees make more informed decisions to secure their financial future. 

Three misconceptions your employees might have about the State Pension

1. Personal investment myth

Some people believe that National Insurance contributions are invested in a personal pot for access at state pension age, whereas in reality, the State Pension is a pay-as-you-go system funded by current taxpayers.

2. Guaranteed payment

Some assume that making 35 years of contributions guarantees a payout and that they won’t lose this money if they die before recouping it.

3. Partial contributions confusion

There’s also a misconception that those with less than 35 years of qualifying service will receive the full state pension; they won’t. 

The reality of retirement readiness 

77% of savers don’t know how much they’ll need in retirement, and only 16% can give a specific figure. This lack of awareness means that people aren’t effectively planning for the retirement lifestyle they want. 

However, addressing these issues head on can significantly improve retirement readiness. Employers can help educate their employees about pensions and what they can do now to better prepare themselves for their financial future. With 85% of employees saying they trust the information and advice that their employer gives them, this can have an enormous impact on increasing people’s understanding of pensions and their importance. 

Here are five effective strategies to improve employee understanding and engagement:

1. Provide clear and accessible information

Demystify pensions by providing straightforward information about pension schemes, charges, and benefits. And don’t forget to remind employees to keep their details up to date with their various pension providers – there are an estimated 1.6 billion lost pension pots in the UK, worth around £37 billion.

2. Make increasing pension contributions easy

Use a benefits platform like OneHub to clearly show employees how much tax and NI they can save by increasing their contributions, and the impact on their take-home pay.   

3. Use a variety of communication methods

Use workshops, webinars, and personalised communications to reach employees in ways that resonate with them. Running webinars or drop-in sessions for employees is a great way to get them thinking about their pension and gives them an opportunity to ask questions. 

4. Help employees visualise their future

Use tools like retirement calculators to help employees understand their future retirement outcomes and how their current actions can affect this. A webinar that takes employees through the Retirement Living Standards levels is also a practical way to help them understand how much they’ll need for the retirement they envision. 

5. Tailor communications to different employee groups

Customise pension-related messages based on individual circumstances such as age, seniority, or length of service. 

  • For younger employees: Highlight the power of compounding and investment growth and emphasise how, by starting early, they can achieve the lifestyle they want in retirement.  
  • For mid-career employees: Focus on the importance of maintaining consistent contributions and making informed investment choices to stay on track. 
  • For over 50s: Offer retirement workshops to guide them through the transition to retirement, addressing specific concerns like pension drawdown options and estate planning. There are also non-financial aspects of retirement to consider – their health, potential care needs, and relationships are also important aspects to cover in a workshop. 

Pension Awareness Week starts on 9th September 

Benefex is delighted to be supporting Pension Awareness Week again this year – it’s a fantastic opportunity to engage your employees in their pensions.  

The workplace savings team here at Benefex can also help you engage and educate your employees on pension provision; get in touch with Andrew at [email protected] 

Picture of Andrew Barradell

Andrew Barradell

Head of Workplace Savings, Benefex

Picture of Clare Dolan

Clare Dolan

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