Just 17 per cent of employers are using video conferencing for pension surgeries despite increased home working, research from Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing has shown.
The research, which was conducted in September 2020, found that just 22 per cent of employers were providing pension surgeries available to employees remote from the physical workplace, and only 17 per cent were taking advantage of video conferencing technology to do so.
Howden argues that video surgeries provide a number of advantages over the traditional method of provision in the physical workplace, including the ability to deliver the session at a time more suitable to the employee and employer, doing so in an environment that provides the employee with a greater sense of privacy, and reaching team members regardless of location.
The survey also found a significant divide in the level of support offered by employers to their workers on pension issues. While 40 per cent of employers offered pension surgeries at least once every year, the same proportion admitted to not offering any regular surgeries at all. Twelve per cent offered such support, but only on request by the employee.
Howden head of benefits strategy Steve Herbert says: “Like so many other elements of our daily and work life, pension savings and personal retirement planning may well have been impacted by the turbulence of the pandemic in recent months. It follows that many employees will currently have some very valid concerns and questions that need to be addressed by their employer’s chosen pension experts.
“Yet despite these important considerations only 1 in every 5 employers are providing access to pension surgeries for workers who are away from the physical workplace. This is somewhat surprising since the wider world of UK business has now embraced video conferencing for so many other forms of meetings, yet apparently not for the increasingly important topic of workplace pensions.
“The rights to a pension scheme and employer contributions are now well established, yet many employers haven’t yet installed adequate support mechanisms to ensure that their workforce understand the pension scheme, and engage in the process of saving for their retirement. Without such understanding many employees will find that their pension savings are nowhere near adequate to fund their retirement years, and may potentially face an impoverished retirement as a result.
“We would encourage employers to actively offer pension surgeries to more of their workforce via video conferencing options, as this represents a low cost and far-reaching tool to improve engagement and understanding. It’s fair to say that many of our corporate clients and their workers have found this to be a very useful facility during these deeply uncertain times.”