Employee Benefits Awards 2011: Most effective use of financial education in the workplace

EBAwardsWINNER

E.On, Making the Most of your Money

The judges loved the way this entrant focused on two key issues within the organisation and encouraged employees to engage with these.

E.On’s two main objectives for its financial education strategy were to help employees find support to deal with debt issues and encourage as many as possible to save for a financially secure retirement. In particular, the energy firm wanted to engage younger staff, aged under 25, with its pensions provision. It felt face-to-face ommunication †was the best way to engage with this group, so its benefits team attended more than 50 sessions around the country to target its diverse and geographically dispersed workforce.

Meanwhile, management information from the company’s employee assistance programme provider showed the top reason for calls to its helpline relating to stress at home was linked to financial issues. To provide employees with support, E.On’s benefits team worked with the company’s internal occupational health team to devise its Head Way campaign aimed at promoting healthy minds, which placed financial wellbeing at its heart.

This can be an issue people often find hard to discuss, so it was important to approach it in a way that was fun and engaging but gave access to professionals and information in an approachable way. E.On erected a garden shed in communal areas of its buildings, where staff could receive support and leave hints and tips for colleagues on its graffiti walls.

This approach more than paid off. Calls to the EAP relating to financial issues fell from 80% to 42%, while more than 1,200 non-members and new joiners joined the company pension plan, pushing take-up to 75%.

Overall, debt can be a tricky issue to tackle within a workforce and it can be easy for employers to become overly paternalistic. The judges felt E.On successfully avoided this when addressing the issue. As one commented: “The best things are when you do not know when things are being done to you and I do not think employees would have known they were being given financial education in this instance.”

RUNNERS UP

CSC entered by Aon Hewitt and Scottish Widows
Computer Sciences Corporation was one of the first UK organisations to launch a corporate wrap platform to its employees. It was launched when the employer was closing its defined benefit pension scheme and members were being asked to make decisions about retirement planning. Staff were offered financial information, guidance and
tools to help them make informed decisions.

Marks and Spencer, Planning Your Future
The judges felt the retailer’s strategy on financial education was “spot on”. M&S runs two financial education programmes, one for management and one for all other staff. Its strategy is used to communicate key benefits issues, such as changes to the company’s pension scheme, alongside personal finance matters.

Oracle, [email protected] entered bySecondsight
This entry focused on educating employees on pension choices as Oracle looked to move from a trust-based defined contribution scheme to a group personal pension plan. Its communications strategy included presentations, webinars and an online bespoke pensions video. Take-up of the pension scheme increased, with 86% of members choosing to increase their basic contribution levels.

Siemens, Siemens Benefits Scheme entered by Towers Watson
To educate staff about its pension and saving for their future, Siemens created an online campaign entitled ‘Don’t be a Wilf’, focused on a hapless cyber pensioner, Wilfred Wrongturn. A three-step plan to guide staff through their options featured an online film and an interactive online quiz.

Read more about the Award winners