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HR staff are among the most disillusioned employees when it comes to preparing for retirement, Mercer reveals

Employees are experiencing a crisis of confidence in their readiness for retirement, according to research by Mercer, and HR staff are amongst the most disillusioned.

Asked if their organisation was doing enough to help them prepare for retirement, only 35% declared themselves satisfied, 34% were unsatisfied with the remaining 31% unsure. Worryingly for a function, which oversees corporate pension provision, HR appears to be one of the groups with the least positive view on retirement prospects and the retirement provision of their employers.

The report, published yesterday, showed only 38% of employees felt they were doing enough to prepare financially for their retirement and confidence about their retirement prospects is lowest amongst the 21-45 year age group.

The data is based on Mercer's What's Working TM research conducted amongst 2,400 UK workers in over 1,000 private sector organisations - part of a global survey of nearly 30,000 employees in 17 countries.

The report showed that HR departments were amongst the most negative groups of employees. Not only were respondents in HR less satisfied (47%) with their company's retirement plans compared to the average employee (49%) but are also less confident in preparing for their retirement (33%) compared to the average (38%). Only 28% thought that their company was doing enough to help with pension provision compared to the average (35%). In terms of communication, 59% thought that their communications on pensions were easy to understand and 45% thought that they had access to enough information to make informed decisions.

Jenny Condron, a partner at Mercer, said: "Concern about retirement is fuelled in part by media attention on pensions in the private and public sector and a raft of other social and financial pressures facing employers and employees.

"Our report findings are interesting, yet contradictory. On the one hand, employees are happy with their company-provided plans yet they lack confidence about their own readiness. This may be related to age and financial education.

"Often, HR has overall responsibility for pension strategy, provision and communications, so it is worrying that they have a less than positive view of their own areas of responsibility. Like all other employee groups.

"HR departments would benefit from improving their pensions knowledge and ensure their communications strategy is clearly planned. It's important that employers see value for money from the benefits provided, and this won't happen if employees remain poorly informed." According to the report, senior management are overwhelmingly more confident that they are doing enough to prepare for their retirement (61%) compared to non-management staff (33%). Senior management (66%) were also more likely to express satisfaction with their company's pension plan compared to non-management (45%) and more likely to agree that their company is doing enough to help them prepare for retirement (54%) than their non-management colleagues (30%).