Case Study: Wellcome trust Sanger Institute

Genetic research centre the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute uses canny communication to help employees crack the pensions code. 

The institute lets staff know how its defined benefit (DB) fund is performing in an annual newsletter, as well as through regular one-to-one pensions surgeries for the scheme’s 800 members.

Kathryn Fenn, head of human resources, says: “Our trustees regularly ask how they might communicate better [around] pensions. There are two key areas we focus on: de-mystifying pensions and asking staff for their opinion on the benefit.” She adds that payslips and email are perfect for rapidly distributing time-sensitive nuggets of information. However, when a trustee is replaced or contribution rates change, the institute sends out special additional letters.

Sign up to our newsletters

Receive news and guidance on a range of HR issues direct to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

It is important to try to inject a bit of life into dry pension communications, adds Fenn.

“Financial information, retirement and forecasts are always challenging to communicate. Pensions is one of those areas that tends to have different interest from staff depending on age, and to make it interesting and relevant to those who have 30 years to go [until retirement] can be difficult. The pensions newsletter is designed to be appealing even if you have a while to go,” she explains.