EXCLUSIVE: Almost half of employers offer at-retirement support

EXCLUSIVE: The value of providing at-retirement support is becoming gradually more apparent to employers, with 46% of HR decision-makers stating that their organisation helps staff with this life stage in 2019, compared to 39% of employers in 2018 and 40% in 2017, according to research by Employee Benefits.

This increasing interest in at-retirement support may well mirror overall workforce demographic trends, as employers face the realities of an ageing employee base.

The Employee Benefits/Wealth at Work Pensions research 2019, which was conducted during October 2019 among 135 HR decision makers, also found that across all respondents, the mean average proportion of employees retiring in the next one (5%), five (8%) or 10 years (11%) has increased across the board, from 2%, 6% and 10% respectively in 2018.

More than half (52%) of employers in 2019 say that between 1% and 5% of their staff will be at or near retirement within the next 12 months; a further 35% state that between 1% and 5% of their workforce will be reaching retirement within five years, while 26% say that 6% to 10% of their employees will be at or nearing retirement within the next decade.

Of those employers that do offer at-retirement support, assisting staff in making informed decisions remains the key driver, as cited by 68% of employers. This has been a top factor since as far back as 2014, when it was cited by 53% of respondents.

Many employers view providing at-retirement support as integral to their wider ambitions around organisational culture, engagement and the employee experience. For example, 60% think that offering at-retirement support forms part of their duty of care, 40% feel it aligns with their workplace culture and 34% believe it contributes to their reputation as an employer of choice.

Comparatively, fewer employers are using at-retirement support to aid workforce planning, with this option falling from 25% to 15% in the past year alone, settling back to similar levels to those seen in 2014 (17%) and 2016 (14%).

Equally, at-retirement support is less likely to be implemented due to a wish to facilitate smooth transitions out of the workplace, with the research demonstrating a drop in this motivation between 2018 and 2019, from 44% to 23%.

Among the proportion of businesses that do not provide at-retirement support, 39% state that this is due to a lack of resources, while a similar amount (37%) feel that at-retirement support is the responsibility of their pension provider, compared to 29% that said this last year.