Kingfisher develops pensions app to engage staff

NAPF 2015: Retail group Kingfisher has developed a brand-specific app to engage its 36,000 staff who are members of the Kingfisher pension scheme.

smart phone

The employer’s communications and financial education strategy around pensions began as a way of informing its staff about auto-enrolment, explained Dermot Courtier, head of group pensions at Kingfisher, speaking at the conference session ‘Gamification – the addictive combination of games, mobile devices and pensions’ at the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) Annual Conference and Exhibition 2015.

This included a range of traditional communication strategies, such as DVDs, posters and leaflets that incorporated imagery related to the organisation’s brand.

Focusing on the products the group sells, most notably nuts and bolts, the organisation developed a communications campaign based around characters from the ‘Bolt family’.

Following the successful roll out of auto-enrolment in March 2014, Kingfisher gathered feedback about its communications approach in order to develop a further campaign to encourage staff to save for the future.

Courtier said: “We took learning points from auto-enrolment and what was fed back to us by members, employees, store managers, and our HR community and we developed it into a five-year ‘saving for your future campaign’.”

One of the changes it made as a result of this was to shorten the length of the informative DVDs produced for staff and to simplify the messaging used.

It also developed an app that features members of its Bolt family, which is designed to educate staff about saving levels and to tap into the use of technology to engage younger staff with pensions and long-term saving.

The app launched in November 2014 and was fully integrated into the firm’s communications and financial education strategy.

Kingfisher points employees to the app using a range of communication channels, such as a link to download it on annual benefits statements.

Employees’ response to the app has largely been positive and Kingfisher has plans to develop it further in the future as far as its technical capability allows.

“We ran a number of internal focus groups across the business and we have run surveys on the trustee website, and overall the feedback has been very positive from the people that have participated,” says Courtier.

Peter Nicholas, managing director at AHC, who spoke alongside Courtier, added that gamification should not be considered a tool of the future but as a way of engaging employees with their retirement savings today.

He explained the popularity of games and the significant size and turnover of the gaming industry, which reached $70 billion in 2013, are an indication of the power that games have to engage.

“If we want to connect with people about pensions, then we need to get into their world and interact with them in the way that they are interacting with the world. And increasingly that’s through gamification.”

He added that the sense of achievement, reward and progress players feel as they work their way through a game can be harnessed to encourage interaction and understanding of pensions: “It’s these principles that can be picked up and applied to member education, and member engagement and really start to use the technology of today to connect with members,” he explained.