Employee engagement: middle ages or the dark ages?

In my last article, I talked about the savings riddle and how we need to think more holistically in order to engage younger members of UK plc. This piece picks up on the journey looking at the age band 30-49: the middle ages.

Maturing into ourselves

This is a period in our lives when, in theory at least, disposable income is high and, like butterflies, we have matured into our beautiful selves.  Of course, as the title suggests, although this is the picture painted, quite how accurate this is remains to be seen. If we consider that the middle ages are also known as the dark ages it would appear that this may be a more fitting description.

"The stark reality of the actual cost of a decent retirement is a central part of educating people about pensions."

By 30+ the typical savings journey has seen you step onto the housing ladder, income rising steadily and debts being paid down.  And while retirement is creeping closer, you are probably still celebrating the fact that you managed to turn 30 in the first place!

Goodbye disposable income

But what type of picture does our Generation Why?’ survey paint?  Well, it seems the middle ages, which I am (just) still in, is in fact a period where we worry about almost everything.  In terms of financial priorities, it is interesting to see that:

  • roughly, a third are still saving for a house
  • paying off debt regardless of affluence is consistent at 40%
  • in terms of saving for a pension: of the group with lowest affluence (below £20k), only 15% see this as a priority, this figure is 30% in the group with higher affluence (above £75k)

The disposable income for many has been swallowed by eye watering rent/mortgage rates or the costly little pitter patter of tiny children’s feet.

The truth about aspirational retirement

One of the other key questions we asked focuses on understanding around pensions with results revealing that it still remains pitifully low even though at this stage in life, the clock has most definitely started counting down.

It is imperative that we reach out to this cohort, start highlighting what aspirational retirement looks like and most importantly, provide clarity around the costs associated with this.

The stark reality of the actual cost of a decent retirement is a central part of educating people about pensions and one that has been so long neglected with regards to DC pensions in particular.  It might seem obvious to say, but part of the problem is that longevity has greatly improved since the dark ages . . .

Many believe that to reference the middle ages as the dark ages is unfair. It was in fact a period of huge social change and learning, and while it’s true that many people were illiterate, they did educate themselves – by learning aurally and visually.

I believe that we can likewise help to change the perceived uncertainty of this cohort and show that they can empower themselves and influence their own outcomes; this starts by engaging with them in the right way.

In my next article, I take a look at the golden years of 50+ and ask - have pensions been changed forever?

This article first appeared on REBA global