It doesn’t matter how much organisations talk about retention, EVP, their responses to the supposed “Great Resignation” and their enduring cultures. Nothing shines a light on our view of the labour force as entirely transitory as the approach that many organisations take to pensions.
I’m old enough to remember Final Salary pension schemes being in place and was lucky enough to have participated in a couple in the early years of my employment. And even in the simple language of the scheme there is a tell tale to how we have changed our perception of employees and their careers. The expectation in so many organisations is that we no longer expect you to stay here until you retire and so we aren’t going to incentivise you to do so.
Whilst I understand that there are complex financial considerations about the specific provision of defined benefit schemes, that shouldn’t hide the fact that too many organisations’ approach to pension provision is nothing short of woeful and one of the reason why the Government were forced to act through statutory minimum contributions. There has been a silent race to the bottom which has taken place out of the eyes and ears of the mainstream debate.
Compare and contrast with the last twelve months coverage of hybrid working (yes I am on this bandwagon again), and debates about the number of days that organisations will ask their people to be in. Is there the same debate about the level of contributions that organisations are making into their employee schemes? Of course not, and the double irony is that the supposed liberation that has come as many organisations sell off their property portfolio will harm both pension fund investments and, I can almost guarantee, won’t go back to employees in any shape or form.
So who cares? What does it matter? The Government will take care of it, right? Well there are two possible answers to that, if the answer is no then we are going to have employees working until they die and if the answer is yes, we’re placing a huge burden on the next generation and the one after that. It hardly sounds like inter-generational fairness. If we believe that we, as organisations, have a role to play in society then we could do far worse than making sure that our employees can survive after they’ve left us.
PS. Take That, if you were asking. I bet they never thought they’d be misquoted in that context!