If you’re having trouble getting your plan members to understand and appreciate their pension benefits, ask yourself this: Do you celebrate your pension plan? Do you make it a BIG deal? With less than 33% of the Canadian labour force (and fewer than one in four private sector employees) now participating in a pension plan of any kind—DB or DC—just sponsoring a pension plan is becoming a big differentiator for an employer. It’s up to you to make sure your members—and potential employees—understand this.

Retirement income security is an increasingly hot topic these days—not just among pension experts but also among working Canadians and their families, friends and neighbours. And it’s not just baby boomers who are concerned about their standard of living in retirement. All generations are beginning to reshape their priorities, and research has shown that a majority of workers under age 40 say their retirement program was an important factor in their decision to take their current job.

So, if information about your pension plan isn’t already front and centre in your recruitment materials, it’s time to reposition your communications. But that’s just the beginning. To make sure both new and existing employees continue to place high value on your pension plan, you need to embed it into your organizational culture. Your employees should understand why your organization is committed to providing a pension plan, how having a plan helps to define and support your key values, how employees can maximize the value they get from it.

Total rewards statements are a great place to start, by providing a big-picture snapshot of how your pension plan fits in with all the programs your organization has to offer. But really connecting employees to your plan takes more than providing an annual statement. You need to make your pension plan part of a broader ongoing communication strategy—one that becomes part of the overall employee experience.

Beyond the conventional tools, such as newsletters, calculators and retirement planning sessions, why not host the occasional pension awareness lunch or pension-themed day? You might even consider recruiting some volunteer pension ambassadors—interested employees who can help direct their peers to the pension answers they need and can act as a conduit back to HR or plan management with ideas on how the plan can be better promoted to members.

In today’s economic environment, being part of a employer-sponsored pension plan is a privilege. So, don’t keep your plan a secret—promote it! Help employees understand how it works. And help keep it top of mind. Your employees will be better equipped to appreciate what they have and to get full mileage from their plan. And you’ll get more out of this significant investment in your people.

Copyright © 2021 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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