Kerry Shiels: An effective pensions communications strategy needs a winning formula

Kerry Shiels: An effective pensions communications strategy needs a winning formula

Trying to talk about pensions to 65,000 employees proves to be a difficult task. Some have different levels of knowledge and understanding, across different age profiles, and all have different work modes; be that at home, in the office, at contact centres, in shops or in the field. It is complicated enough to provide any organisation with a complex challenge.

But BT, with the help of its pension provider Standard Life, has hit upon a winning formula to successfully introduce an effective communications strategy.  When engaging a large number of individuals, it comes down to five key pillars.

First, understand your people. Because BT has such a diverse collection of employees, its pension communications approach can not take a one-size-fits-all approach. Wherever possible, communications must be relevant and tailored to meet the specific needs and challenges that each individual might have as relates to pensions and wider financial wellness.

Engagement is key. The organisation uses a diverse range of channels so that employees can start to engage in a way that suits them. From a mobile app to a dedicated helpline, members have a variety of ways to find out about their pension entitlements.

The simplicity of messaging is key. All communication must be consistent, straightforward and jargon-free, with the detail available for those who want more.

Enhanced support channels are also important. BT has a number of ways that employees can reach out to get the support they need. Through HR and scheme web pages, secured messaging and a dedicated helpdesk, support and guidance is easy to access at all times.

Continual optimisation can help the organisation improve. Together BT and Standard Life survey pension members to get continual feedback on communications.

Overall, it is on the back of these pillars that BT and Standard Life have delivered communications such as action lists for new joiners, regular emails tailored to age and life events, articles in workplace social media accounts, personalised video statements, seminars, webinars and much more.

Looking forward, BT will continue to learn from the data and feedback to make sure its pension communications are even more relevant and personalised for all members; from auto-enrolment to retirement.

Kerry Shiels is pensions director at BT