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NEST announces the 'golden rules' for communicating pensions auto-enrolment to staff


With just a few months to go before millions of employees begin saving into a pension for the first time, as auto-enrolment legislation comes into force, The National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) has published its ‘golden rules’ for employers.

The pensions industry faces an enormous challenge to understand how to communicate with this new generation of savers and NEST initiated a debate on how the industry might tackle this challenge with the launch of eight golden gules for talking about pensions in the context of auto-enrolment. The rules were developed following four years of research among people who will be affected by the reforms.

NEST's Golden Rules for communications:

  1. Keep it real: Use examples people can relate to and avoid abstract concepts.
  2. Rights not responsibility: Tell people what they're entitled to, not what they should be doing.
  3. Out with the old: Make pensions relevant to their lives now and don't focus on the details of retirement.
  4. One for all: Make it clear automatic enrolment is happening to most workers, not just them.
  5. Tell it like it is: Present the facts and avoid 'spin' – people want to make up their own minds.
  6. Give people control (even if they don't use it): Tell people about their choices and not that everything's done for them.
  7. Take people as you find them: Give people access to information that matches their knowledge and interest.
  8. Be constructive: Tell people about solutions, not problems or scare stories.

NEST chief executive Tim Jones said: "Automatic enrolment is designed to kick-start a saving revolution.

"NEST has spent a lot of time getting to know the new savers that pension reform will affect and our findings suggest clear communications are important if we want people to feel good about being in a pension.

"NEST's golden rules are based on extensive research into how people think and feel about their money and how they want pensions explained. This includes, for example, explaining that people have a right to a pension at work, rather than saying it's something they 'should' do.

"The rules aren't the only answer, but we hope they will be interesting to anyone who will be communicating with this new generation of savers."

Will Aitken, senior consultant at Towers Watson, added: "NEST's eight golden rules represent an excellent and overdue overhaul for pension communication ground rules. Some existing member communication could benefit from adopting the rules, particularly key features documents for contract-based schemes."