Member experience the new pension plan design for younger generations

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We’re living in a society with a new generation of employees who also happen to be digital natives. Generation-Y and millennials learn, act and understand very differently than the generations that came before them. They take a different look at their careers, the work environment and even retirement.

In the age of defined benefit plans, members were told they were protected for retirement. They didn’t have to worry. Both the success of the member and the success of the sponsor could largely be attributed to the quality of pension plan design.

Now, with defined contribution plans taking over the pension landscape, members aren’t given that luxury. They’re provided with the resources to help prepare for retirement but the rest is up to them. For these younger generations, the resources need to be interesting and generate engagement. And, for the plan to be successful, member experience has to be thrown into the mix.

Once plan design is in place, sponsors should move to defining the experience for the plan member. Generation-Y and millennials are all about quick information paired with a memorable experience. They’re result-oriented, fast-paced and tech savvy. Employers must ensure their younger employees fully value their plan and maximize the opportunity to save for retirement; it’s important to think like this generation and appeal to them. A plan sponsor’s total rewards program, including the defined contribution plan, should be one that aims to provide quick, easy information to maximize employee engagement — and if they throw in perks, even better.

When it comes to members learning about a pension plan, they don’t need a 500-page guide to steer them in the right direction. They just want the facts, advice and helpful resources that will provide them with the tools they need to optimize their plan. If they need more information, they’ll look for it. Plan members trust their employer to guide them in the right direction.

As a member of this generation myself, I can vouch for how quick and pragmatic we are. We don’t need an overabundance of information to understand a concept. Give us a one-pager that’s to the point and we’ll have a good understanding of how we need to proceed. When it comes to the desire to learn, we’re no different than the generations before us; we’re just different in how we learn. We’ll read hundreds of articles, listen to hours of podcasts and watch countless YouTube videos.

Twitter, for instance, is the perfect example of the workings of our desire to learn. Each tweet is 140 characters or less. We scroll through our feeds reading various headlines, facts and statistics. Most of the time, we just gather all these tidbits, with an idea of the headlines on major news networks or what the newest workout is. But if a piece of information grabs our interest, we’ll click it and learn more about it. If that one article intrigues us, we’ll search the tag related to the previous tweet and find hundreds of more articles on that topic.

If employers spend less time perfecting the plan design and more time investing in plan members, the experience of the member will result in member and sponsor success. It’s as easy as that.

If a plan sponsor is unsure if their members are happy, don’t worry — if they want more, they’ll let their employer know.

Megan Marsiglio is the manager of communications and social media at Proteus, a Toronto-based investment and governance specialty firm.

Transcontinental Media G.P.