From hiring requirements to salary reviews, decisions that concern your employees are core to the planning calendar. But have you considered a review of your workplace pension scheme?
Conducting a regular health check is an important part of running a successful workplace scheme. And in times of economic uncertainty, it can be a great way to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to your employees.
We recommend these 5 steps to help you perform an effective health check of your scheme:
- Evaluate your business continuity plan
- Review your resilience to scams
- Consider your level of contributions
- Measure the engagement of your scheme
- Assess your communication and support plans
Let’s explore these in detail, so you can be confident in running a healthy and efficient workplace scheme.
1. Evaluate your business continuity plan
Your pension scheme’s business continuity plan (BCP) is designed for times of major disruption, such as a flood, supply chain failure or cyber-attack. The plan should make it possible for you to continue paying employee pension benefits and contributions, even when business finances and budgets could be under pressure. You may have put your BCP into action during the pandemic. But have you ever stopped to assess whether it was working?
When you evaluate your BCP, take the time to ask, and answer, the question – is my business’s continuity plan robust and effective?
Even if you think your plan is secure, it might be worth thinking about any changes you could make to further support your scheme members and protect your business in times of uncertainty.
2. Review your employees resilience to scams
In times of economic uncertainty like the rise in the cost of living, your employees might be more vulnerable to scams. A health check is a good time to make sure that you’re sufficiently educating them on the dangers of scams and what to look out for. The Pensions Regulator (TPR) recommends directing employees to online information for support. You can check out our Pension Scams hub for more information. FCA’s ScamSmart website offers detailed information about various types of scams and can help you and your employees determine whether an opportunity is legitimate. The MoneyHelper website also offers valuable resources for avoiding scams.
You can also review whether you have the right provisions in place to protect your business from any scams or fraudulent behaviour. Taking the time to do this could help you determine whether you need to put in place more robust protection.
3. Consider your level of contributions
As part of auto-enrolment legislation, you’re required by law to contribute a minimum of 3% of qualifying earnings into the pension pots of your eligible employees each month. You might already be paying in more than the minimum, which is likely a welcome form of support for your scheme members. Employer contributions higher than the minimum requirement could also be a good way to attract new talent to your organisation.
When conducting your scheme health check, you could consider reviewing whether the contributions you’re making, are at a level you’re happy with. Our article Managing your scheme during the cost of living crisis shares practical and technical considerations before either increasing or reducing your contributions to your members’ pensions.
4. Measure your scheme engagement
Having an insight into how your scheme members connect with their pension savings could be one of the greatest assets at your disposal. By analysing your scheme’s engagement in real terms, you might find it easier to prioritise key areas for improvement. For example, tailoring your communications to focus on specific pain points that are preventing your members from actively engaging.
There may be different ways you can measure your scheme engagement. As an example, our own Member Insights governance report gives employers visibility on a range of member activity at scheme level. This includes information such as members’ average monthly contributions, log-in activity, fund performance and service perception of us as a pension provider. Employers have access to generate these reports at any time.
5. Assess your communication and support plans
How often do you communicate with your employees about your workplace scheme? And how effective are those messages? Encouraging members to get involved with their retirement savings – and communicating this in the right way – is crucial to them achieving great outcomes.
Using your Member Insights or equivalent report, you can build a better understanding of the retirement savings position of your scheme members. This will help you to identify the key areas for improvement and what your next steps might be.
It might be a good idea to focus on one specific topic at a time. For example, you could create a campaign to encourage members to review the contributions they’re making. Think about the key points you may want to address. In this case, it could be making members aware of the tax relief they receive on their contributions, or if you offer a contribution matching initiative. To make your campaign as successful as possible, remember to consider how and when you’re sharing these messages. You may wish to consider multiple formats, such as emails, posters or face to face meetings.
Every scheme is different, so it’s important to measure the effectiveness of your communications and support to make sure that it’s working for your members. Our article 5 key questions employees may have about their pension might give you some ideas of common questions you might wish to answer as part of your strategy.
Remember there are resources available, like your employer toolkit that can help you create a communication plan that suited to your scheme.
Your scheme health matters
Doing regular health check-ups on your workplace scheme could make a difference to its success. While some aspects may form part of your annual planning, other checks like measuring scheme engagement could be assessed more frequently. Reviewing contribution levels and your communication approach might be particularly effective in showing your employees that you care about their financial wellbeing.