Pension or cash? | Deloitte's decision to let staff access their retirement pot could help HR

Deloitte's decision to let staff access their retirement pot could help HR

Deloitte has launched a series of new work benefits which will include staff having the option to take their pension contributions as cash payments.

The firm announced yesterday that its 22,000 UK employees will be given a greater choice in how they receive the value of the firm’s pension contribution, allowing them to choose between the more traditional pension style – or a new cash alternative. 

The move, announced alongside improvements to family policies, is the latest in a series of measures intended to provide Deloitte's people with more flexible and inclusive workplace policies. This includes the introduction of flexible public holidays, the option for colleagues with the right to work overseas to do so, and last year’s launch of Deloitte Works, the firm’s hybrid work policy which gives people the choice of when and where they work, in balance with their professional and personal responsibilities.

Jackie Henry, Managing Partner for people and purpose at Deloitte UK, said: “Saving for retirement remains incredibly important. However, we know from listening to our people that some would value flexibility and choice around their pension contributions.

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“There may be individuals, who, in the short term, want to have the flexibility to receive the firm’s pensions contribution as part of their regular pay," he continues, "for instance, to help supplement savings for buying a first home. We know that our people are a diverse group of individuals – with many different priorities – and we hope today’s measures give them more choices to support their needs.”

The company stated that, although it believes saving for a pension is important, they decided to provide more choices for those who require more financial flexibility.

Deloitte also announced a range of enhancements to its existing family policies, including improving parental leave as well as offedring Bereavement and Pregnancy Loss leave.

Henry added: “Taking care of our people at all the important life stages has never been so important. The improvements we’re announcing today will help make the firm a more inclusive place to work and ensure that we’re putting our people’s wellbeing first.

“We have undergone a comprehensive review of all of our people policies. We want to give our people the best support at these important times in their lives.”

Cost-of-living crisis becoming a health concern

Deloitte’s decision to offer its people more financial flexibility comes at a time when money worries are affecting virtually every household. New research has also highlighted the significant impact of the cost-of-living crisis on people’s home and work life – driving them to change jobs, take on more hours, and even attend work when they should be off sick.

In fact, nearly one in three (31%) of the 1,006 UK-based workers polled by HR software provider Ciphr in May reported working more hours or extra shifts because of rising living costs over the last few months, and one in eight (12%) have taken on an additional job.

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One in four (26%) men and one in five (18%) women said they’ve requested a pay rise to help offset record inflation. A further 12% (16% of men and ten per cent of women) have asked their employer to expand their employee benefits package; by, for example, adding a health cashback plan or an employee discounts scheme.

Will Deloitte’s flexibility see an uptick in performance?

The firm’s new policy could also help prevent a crash in productivity. Data released by global employee wellbeing platform Champion Health, which surveyed 2,200 UK employees, shows that financial pressure is now the highest cause of stress with 34% citing it as a cause in a survey. And overall, 71% of UK professionals are experiencing moderate to high levels of stress.

The survey shows the cost-of-living crisis is causing those who experience financial stress to feel fatigued: 48% of employees with terrible sleep quality are experiencing financial stress, as are 47% of employees experiencing clinically relevant symptoms of anxiety.

One in 10 all of British employees report financial stress is affecting their ability to do their job.

The data, collected between October 2021 – June 2022 is published in Champion Health’s Cost Of Living Crisis report, which includes authors from Champion Health and its newly formed Global Wellbeing Advisory Board, including Global Head of Health and Wellbeing for Ocado, Arti Kashyap-Aynsley. The Board is dedicated to exploring how the cost-of-living and rising financial stress affects the wellbeing of UK professionals.

Harry Bliss, CEO and co-founder of Champion Health, said that while the findings are worrying, the data helps highlight that employees’ financial wellbeing has a direct impact on business productivity. He added that the findings should jolt leaders and businesses to take the wellbeing of their teams ever more seriously.

Bliss said: “The last six months have been extremely tough on every employee, and I’m concerned by the results of this report. Just as the world began to return to something resembling normality, new global crises have emerged, resulting in increased stress on the wellbeing of our people.

“What we’re seeing is a workforce under continuous pressure, both financially and mentally. From the rising cost of living to the long shadow cast by a new war in Europe, organisations must do more to support their people.

“The cost-of-living crisis has a knock-on effect where financial stress is causing fatigue and businesses are at risk of having an unproductive workforce.

“At its most extreme, those experiencing financial stress are more than twice as likely to experience thoughts of suicide or self-harm. This alone must galvanise businesses to act. Companies can help to turn this dangerous pattern now. It's not just a business challenge, this is a moral challenge too.”

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