According to Statistics Canada, almost three-quarters (73%) of Canadians over the age of 16 went online for personal or professional reasons last year. With a number like that, plan sponsors can’t afford to lag in the area of web communications.

Having a website or intranet that gives plan members 24/7 access to their pension and benefits information is a cost of doing business these days, says Kim Duxbury, assistant vice-president of marketing and communications for group retirement services with Sun Life Financial. “I think any leading company today needs to have a website—it’s a cost of entry [and] it plays a huge role in servicing and educating.”

Websites and intranets open up a new dimension for communicating retirement savings plans and benefits plans to members. Online enrollment, interactive benefits and retirement planning tools, account information and easy-to-find plan policies and allowances make it easier for employees to be more engaged.

“It is a question of cost over value,” adds Paul Harrietha, principal with Eckler Ltd. “An effective web application will promote improved pension and benefits literacy and appreciation at the member level.”

Although robust web applications can be a costly endeavour, Harrietha says these costs are often offset in the long term by efficiencies, shorter development timelines, faster delivery of key information to stakeholders, improved data accuracy and reduced costs associated with the production of print-based materials.

Related Stories

Maureen Simons, senior communications consultant with Hewitt Associates, agrees that while web applications may require upfront investments, they will pay off in the future with time savings, cost savings and increased member satisfaction and participation. “If a website is properly designed, properly communicated and used how it should, it will save money in the long run.”

But plan sponsors also have to realize that while websites and intranets are helpful resources, they cannot be built and forgotten. Like any other information media, these tools need to be updated and maintained and must work with the organization’s overall communication and business strategies.

To comment on this story, email