Scotiabank’s focus on making essential pension information more accessible to plan members was recognized at Benefits Canada’s 2021 Workplace Benefits Awards on Oct. 14.

The bank won in the Pension plan communications category for its streamlined approach to pension statements. In 2020, Scotiabank restructured its defined benefit pension plan statement into two versions — a simplified four-page booklet and an expanded eight-page document with full pension details — and rewrote the content to deliver the most important information more quickly.

Read: Who are the winners of the 2021 Workplace Benefits Awards?

“The first thing I noticed when I looked at these statements was that we really needed to change them to be more user-friendly and demonstrate the impact they have for employees,” says Rosemary Hatnay, director of employee well-being solutions at Scotiabank. “A pension statement is a really key piece of information, but you’d be turning several pages before you found the [amount of] earned benefits.”

Employee feedback was gathered through webinars and pre-pandemic, in-person sessions and incorporated into the statement content. The statements were then completely redesigned to be more visually appealing and to highlight the most important information. In Ontario, this redesign also helped Scotiabank achieve compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

While print copies of the pension statement are still available, a digital version can be accessed through an employee pension portal. Scotiabank also provides telephone support in both English and French for employees who have questions about their annual pension statements or about the pension plan in general.

Read: Court of appeal decision highlights importance of clear pension communications

An employee survey conducted in April found that, after reading the restructured and redesigned statement, 79 per cent of respondents confirmed they have a better understanding of how their pension benefit is calculated, while 83 per cent agreed the new annual pension statement is easier to read and understand than previous years’ statements.

In addition, 88 per cent of respondents favoured the new two-booklet approach, while 89 per cent said the annual statement is an important document for their retirement planning. As well, following the redesign of the pension statements, Scotiabank found a significant reduction in the frequency, length and complexity of plan member calls regarding their pensions.

Hatnay says the bank is planning to update its defined contribution plan statement in 2022. “We were knee-deep in this information [throughout the redesign process] and you can become blind to what a fresh set of eyes sees. It was very rewarding to see that employees could see the same things — that it was simpler and easier to read. . . . It’s no longer your standard statement that shows up — it’s about what the bank invests in you as an employee.”

Read: Is your pension communication message getting through?