Data, personas and generational focus keys to successful benefits, pension communication

It’s a constant challenge for employers to ensure their plan members understand and appreciate the pension and benefits programs available to them. It isn’t easy, but employers stand a better chance of success when the information is meaningful and relevant.

The marketing and retail industries have been doing it for ages, to the point where personalization isn’t just a nice-to-have, but an expectation. When you’re binge-watching Netflix, the thumbnails you see are selected specifically for you, based on what you’ve been watching and clicking on. Amazon has taken it a step further with hyper-personalization, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict what you might want to buy before you go looking for it.

Read: Golf Town nudges employees with online communication platform

That might seem a little too ‘Big Brother’ for pension or benefits plan communications, but there’s still an opportunity to target employees more effectively. Here are three tips:

  • Start with the data.

We are collecting, and using, more information than ever before. In many cases, the data is already there, with an organization’s benefits or pension provider or in their human resources information system, for example. It’s just a matter of slicing and dicing it in different ways. What are plan members’ literacy levels, both general and financial? What’s their life stage and family status, and how may that influence their decisions? Once an employer has a good sense of its plan demographics, it will be easier to hone the communications.

  • Create personas.

For plan sponsors that aren’t comfortable with providing completely personalized communications, one solution is to create personas. For example, we worked with a large plan sponsor that was looking for a way to communicate the various retirement savings options available at the company — including a pension plan, a group registered retirement savings plan and a stock plan — to newly hired employees so they could make more informed decisions on where to invest their money.

Read: Coca-Cola wins big for successfully communicating complex pension transition

We created three persona videos based on life stage (early-, mid- and late-career), using different variables, such as salary, living accommodation/location and family status. The videos were played during the company’s onboarding sessions, followed by small group discussions on options for each persona and factors that might go into their decision-making. The intent wasn’t to provide advice, but simply to offer some decision-making support and create a springboard for discussion, which proved very effective.

  • Don’t forget about the next generation.

There’s been a lot of discussion about millennials and how they’re influencing the workplace today. That’s not surprising, given that they’ll make up 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025. But generation Z is also entering the workforce, and what about the next generation after that? Some companies will have five different generations working side by side, all with different needs, priorities and expectations. That diversity needs to be factored into any communication strategy around pensions and benefits.

Read: Samuel, Son & Co. rides benefits communication harmony to award win

And one last tip: when looking to personalize communications, employers must take the time to get it right. If they don’t, they’ll run the risk of creating a less engaged audience than before. But if they do, they’re also setting the stage for more focused and effective conversations moving forward.