A new report(1) by one of the leading UK workplace pension providers, Aviva, has found almost three-quarters of employees (73%) have never spoken to their employer or line manager about their financial wellbeing.
Aviva’s Working Lives Report 2022: The Big Squeeze found that younger employees show more willingness to speak to their employers about their financial concerns, particularly 25-34 year olds, followed closely by 18-24 year olds.
Table 1: Most likely to talk about financial wellbeing with employer or line manager, by age group
Emma Douglas, Aviva’s Director of Workplace Savings & Retirement said: “Talking money with an employer appears to be one of the last workplace taboos. Young workers are clearly breaking down the stigma associated with talking to the boss about the ‘m’ word, but it is important that all generations of workers feel they can talk about their financial wellbeing with their employer. One of the areas that employers can offer important support is retirement savings. Pensions are designed to be a long-term investment and any decisions made today will echo throughout a person’s retirement.”
Employees are more likely to trust their own research (26%) to guide them on pensions and long-term savings. Followed by their pension scheme provider (19%) and then their employer, Human Resources (HR) or line manager (15%).
Of those employees eligible to join a workplace pension scheme provided by their employer, almost one in five (17%) do not know what proportion of their salary is paid into their pension. This suggests that some employees are indifferent to their pension.
There is also concern amongst employees that their pension will not provide them with the lifestyle they would like in retirement. Only a small proportion of employees (19%) feel they will be able to retire comfortably on their workplace pension. Over a third (34%) feel their workplace pension will simply not be enough.
As a result of auto-enrolment in 2012, all employers must provide a pension to those employees who meet the criteria. The minimum auto-enrolment contribution including employee and employer contributions and tax relief, is 8 per cent. However, some employers offer higher matching contributions. It is important that employees understand the advantages and benefits of their workplace pension.
Emma Douglas said, “It is a shame that so many people who have a workplace pension and are worried about not being able to retire comfortably have never spoken to their manager about their concerns.
“This is an unusually tough time for people and the extent of financial hardship will be unique for everyone. It is more important than ever that employers encourage their people to talk to them about money worries, and employees take-up any financial education or guidance their employer is able to offer.”
In 2021, Aviva provided over 1,000 financial education seminars for its workplace pension clients, with over 62,000 member attendees.
Some employers will be able to offer external financial education either through a specialist provider or an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). There are a number of 24/7 helplines and online resources at hand that can offer information about financial issues.
There is also plenty of supplementary help available. The financial advice community helps thousands of people every year; there is also free help from the government in the form of the Pension Tracing service, Money and Pension Service, MoneyHelper and Pension Wise. Aviva’s own Mid Life MOT app also provides 45+ year olds with a free online check-up of work, wealth, and wellbeing.
How employees can start a conversation with their manager about their financial concerns:
- Open up: Schedule a separate half-hour confidential chat with your manager. Talking about your money worries is the first step in getting support. Tell them in advance you are looking for financial education and wellness guidance.
- Education: Find out whether your firm offers financial education seminars. Take-up any free financial education and wellness programmes.
How employers can help their employees understand their workplace pension:
- Start at the beginning: Check whether your induction process covers workplace pensions for new joiners.
- Embrace technology: Pension providers often have apps and online tools which show the potential effect of increasing or decreasing payments.
- Offer financial education: Hosting financial education seminars is a good way to get people thinking about their future.
- Tell them, and then tell them again: Keep employees switched onto the benefits their workplace scheme offers by reminding them of the facts on a regular basis.
(1) 1,002 private sector or charity employees (full-time and part-time) and 203 private sector employers were interviewed in April 2022 by Walnut as part of Aviva’s Working Lives Report 2022: The Big Squeeze.
Notes to editors:
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