25 February 2013

Pension communications guide



Download the pensions communications guide as a pdf here


There is huge concern in the UK that people are not saving enough for their pensions.


With stats like 7 million people not saving enough for retirement income and 63% of all pension communications often ending up in the bin, there’s a need to communicate pensions in a more engaging way. (Department of Work and Pensions)


Add to this the new Government auto enrolment pension legislation requiring employers to opt in all eligible employees, it’s time to reinvigorate the importance of pensions and communicate it well.


With a great track record in creative pension and auto enrolment communication campaigns, we thought we’d share our guide to communicating pensions creatively.


So, some research to begin with – our research showed:


  • 26% of people don’t read/aren’t interested in pension information
  • 67% of people in a scheme would like pension information simplified and less complicated
  • 74% of people in a scheme prefer to receive information in writing by post AND email


These are powerful stats, so whatever you do – present pensions information clearly and in a creative, engaging way, make it interesting and relevant to individuals and use a mix of communication channels to distribute your message.


Here’s our guide…


1. Planning and creative

  • Tune into employees – profile your employee groups and understand them. We need to divide employees into groups looking at profile, age, location, role. Get a feel for their reasons to be in/out of the pension and their knowledge about pensions generally and what you offer. This insight helps us to determine the right initial messages and the best communication channels to use.

  • What are the key messages? What one or two key messages should be communicated broadly throughout? A hierarchy of messages really helps break down the information into digestible pieces. Your messages need to be clear, in Plain English and impactful.
  • Develop a strong creative design concept – hugely important. What’s going to bring this communication alive, make people stop and take notice and pay attention? The design theme will keep your communications coordinated, recognisable and consistent.
  • Channels of communication. Once we know more about our audience and how they best receive information we can pick and choose the right channels for our communications activity.
  • What action is required? Be clear whilst planning what you need employees to do as a result of the pension communication. For auto enrolment, are you keen for employees to sign up to your pension in the run up to your transition date or are you happy for them to hear about it at the time of your deadline?


2. Support and Champions

  • Take a collaborative approach to the campaign. Work with your employee forums and champions in the business to test your messages within your communications. This provides an early insight if anything has been missed or more clarity is required.
  • Leadership – senior management buy-in is critical when change is required. Ensure they are well briefed, involved and supporting the communications activity.
  • Manager support – provide managers with a briefing communication that provides them with information, signposting to resources and frequent question and answers so they are well prepared for any questions from their teams.
  • Pensions experts – who is the pensions expert in the business where questions can be directed? How can employees direct questions to your expert? It’s useful to have a question and answer session with this individual or team – filming this as an interview piece makes this more interesting and engaging.
  • Employee champions – make sure employee champions in the business also have a briefing pack with all the information they need to help employees – they could be responsible for making sure posters and leaflets are in key areas and for gathering questions/feedback as the campaign progresses.


3. Launch

  • Your creative theme will be the overarching striking and recognisable design for the communications. A launch is all about awareness so keep it simple and use a variety of media to communicate it.
  • The launch will focus on your top 2/3 key messages and signpost people to more information for the detail. It’s likely to include email, posters, screen savers, the intranet, video, presentations and possibly letters, leaflets, infograms, magazines. You may wish to send communications to employee home addresses.
  • If you have a high number of remote/field-based employees, an audio/video launch communication can work well. Animated films using motion graphics are good options. You will also need to consider a convenient time for this employee group to find out more – it could be a before work, lunch time or an after work drop in session. They could also text in their questions which you can follow up later.
  • Consider the timing of your launch to make sure it’s not conflicting with other important company announcements.


4. Consultative communications

  • This phase of communication allows for individuals to delve deeper into the detail. We need to provide the opportunity for individuals to ask questions, clarify information and find further reference, self help resources/tools.
  • Communication tools include provider presentations, team meetings, drop in sessions, Q&A briefings with pensions experts and 1-1s.


5. Personalised communications

  • It’s important to show personalised illustrations of pension calculations specific to the individual. It helps to include creatively illustrated examples. This can be in the form of print or online letters, statements, booklets or fact sheets.


  • Other useful tools include branded pension calculators or interactive pdf presentations where an employee can click through the options that are relevant to them. These can be supported with clear reference booklets with plenty of examples and illustrated scenarios.
  • If you’re mainly using online communications, consider how you’ll encourage employees to access this especially if they’ll need to access it at home.


6. Ongoing communications

  • Throughout any pensions campaign it’s important to feature your creative and messages regularly in your usual communications.
  • Gather regular feedback – find out what everyone has thought so far. How well received has communications been to date? What questions have been raised throughout – tailor future communications with this feedback in mind.
  • Regular updates to your intranet home page, emails, individual case study features in employee magazine or newsletters and results of polls you might take during the campaign will maintain interest throughout the campaign.
  • Make sure you vary the media for communications as employees have different learning styles and attitudes.



Synergy Creative pension communications research

Our research found that the 5 most important factors when providing pension communications were:

  • Clear, concise, easy to understand
  • Keep it simple (but informative)
  • Plain English, jargon free, language I can understand
  • Personalised
  • Impartial advice


We’ve a great track record with creative pension communications. Contact us to find out more.

  • Pension communications strategy
  • Creative design themes/concepts
  • Manager/employee workshops
  • Message development
  • Design – pensions literature, magazines, film, email, intranet, infograms, presentations, pension calculators – printed and online communications
  • Personalised pension statement illustrations




Contact the Synergy team


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