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Home » Inclusivity in the Workplace » Redefining retirement with pension planning and financial wellbeing support

Emma Douglas

Director of Workplace Savings and Retirement, Aviva

More workers fear their financial concerns are affecting workplace performance. Employers are urged to offer more pension planning guidance.

With research suggesting that almost three-quarters (72%) of employees are more anxious about finances due to the cost of living, workplace pensions expert Emma Douglas encourages employers to be more proactive with supporting personnel as they get closer to retirement.

Financial wellbeing at work

Raising awareness of pension and retirement options through seminars, mid-life MOTs and finance support tools can be invaluable in helping people plan their financial future.

Douglas, Director of Workplace Savings and Retirement at Aviva, points to numerous reasons why employers should support financial wellbeing in an older workforce. “Probably the starkest,” she explains, “is recent research finding that 87% of those with financial worries said it affects their work.”

Financial planning support for businesses

This becomes increasingly acute with the over-50s as they see retirement on the horizon. “People have financial wellbeing worries from time to time. That can often be about how they feel about money rather than the numbers in their bank account or the amount in a pension fund,” adds Douglas.

“Employers should offer information and support services that their employees can access.” This benefits employees and employers as it enables workers to ‘retire with dignity’ at a time that suits both parties but also enables firms to conduct effective workforce planning.

Douglas underlines the need for employers to tailor, target and personalise supportive information to employees’ specific concerns, whether regarding debt, having enough money for retirement or day-to-day budgeting.

Workplace pension scheme and finance tools

Aviva is one of the UK’s leading insurance, wealth and retirement businesses, providing workplace pension schemes for employers of various sizes. It offers a range of practical tools for employers to help employees — from budgeting calculators, retirement forecasters and seminars covering money basics to sophisticated financial planning.

87% of those with financial worries said it affects their work.

That includes developing a financial wellbeing tool, which uses technology to deliver personalised support to workplace pensions scheme members, offering an action plan, education documents and coaching services. “One of the things we have also piloted that we have found really useful is a mid-life MOT,” she explains. “This can cover financial and physical health or career plans.”

Consolidating lost pensions and retirement planning

Aviva is also developing a free online pension tracing and consolidation service to track down lost pensions. “The tracing service aims to bring those together and offer a more holistic view of their retirement income,” explains Douglas. Further tools provide a decision-making framework on how to spend that money at retirement.

Companies increasingly value the experience and skills of the over-50s workforce. The ‘Working Lives Report 2023: Fit for Future’ found that 1 in 10 had introduced support for retaining over-50s, such as mid-life MOTs, job sharing, part-time working opportunities and re-skilling.

Their research also found almost four in five (79%) employees would like more support from their employer in planning for a financially comfortable retirement. Of those, over two in five (41%) would like more information on how to build up a pension pot, and 45% would like more information on how to make a pension last throughout retirement.

Pension gaps among groups

A core focus is to help workers close ‘pension gaps’ — aligning finances with their retirement lifestyle goals. Pension gaps may arise from career breaks for caregiving, travelling or periods of self-employment without a personal pension.

However, Douglas warns that some groups are more vulnerable to pension gaps, particularly women who are more likely to work part-time. A concerning statistic reveals that upon retirement, women aged 60–65 typically have a pension pot that is only about 57% of what men have accumulated.

“It is a big issue, and we really want people to think about this. Pension contributions are unlikely to be a deciding factor when considering whether to work part-time, but it’s important the long-term impact on a pension is understood. This is key to good financial planning,” she concludes.

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