Employers, put the pension plan at the front in the window

Published on: 20 October 2020

Needed: Data Analyst (M/F). Offered: a good salary, plus thirteenth month, with possibility of permanent contract, travel allowance and/or (electric) company bicycle and flexible work hours. What is missing from these employment conditions? Hint: it is very important and starts with a P.


Column Francine van Dierendonck, member of the board of directors APG


At the beginning of this year, we did some research: we looked at 300,000 job opening texts. Only 5 of them mentioned a pension plan, even though, after the salary, the pension plan represents the highest value in the salary package: an employment benefit that can be up to thirty percent of the wage expenses. So, that seems a little strange. Especially because pension certainly continues to be an important factor when people are looking for a new job: as much as 92 percent of Dutch employees and people looking for work expect their employer to organize the accrual of their pension. Many of them do not opt for an employer without pension accrual (or the possibility of a permanent contract).


This is one of the surprising outcomes of the National Employment Conditions Survey that APG conducted last spring among seven thousand employees and people looking for work, in collaboration with Intermediair. The work-life platform for the highly educated is a component of DPG Recruitment, a big player in the Dutch employment market and a component of publishing company DPG Media (previously the Persgroep (Press Group)). It was a logical partner for this survey: they contributed knowledge about the employment market, and we, as the administration organization for pensions, brought: income for the future. Pension and employment are inextricably linked to each other. If you don’t work, you’re not accruing a pension.


So, a pension plan is, apparently, an important selection criterion for Dutch employees. Eighty percent of employers do offer a pension plan and spend a lot of money on it. You would expect that they would loudly advertise that, but in fact, it is barely mentioned, or not at all, or just as an afterthought. Oh, and by the way, we also offer a good pension plan. It is therefore not surprising that fifty percent of employees say they don’t know the content of their pension plan. Sixty percent doesn’t know what portion of the pension premium is paid by the employer, even though that is usually (much) more than the portion they pay themselves. And, incidentally, people apparently also don’t know or know very little about what other benefits employers provide. A membership to the gym? One in three employees doesn’t know about this. A bicycle plan or a personal training budget worth hundreds of Euros? One in five employees has no idea.


This lack of insight into secondary employment benefits is very unfortunate. First of all, for the employees themselves, who are not getting everything they can from their (future) job. As a candidate, ask about the pension plan and other benefits during your job interview, as en employee, talk about it with your coworkers, look it up on the intranet. For employers, it is also a missed opportunity. As an employer, inform your people that you have a pension plan and what it entails. That way you can positively distinguish yourself in the job market and contribute to the satisfaction of employees. Let people know not only how much they are (or will be) earning, but also how much income is being accrued for them in the future. And make sure this is done in net amounts, so that people can get a realistic picture of what their financial future looks like. Say, for example, you want to stay where you are currently living after you turn 67. It will definitely matter what your monthly income will be at that time, to ensure you will be able to. Almost fifty percent of employees doesn’t know if they will receive fixed or variable pension payments in the future. And right now, we are facing a new pension contract, in which the individual and variable pensions are going to be playing a bigger role.


I would therefore like to appeal to Dutch employers: communicate about pensions and other employment benefits more often and better. Realize: the employee does not exist. Women, youth and people with limited education often know less about pension, research has shown. That demands a customized approach. And don’t forget about a good work-private life balance and happiness at work. People want to enjoy their work and in addition, they want more time for themselves and their families. They are prepared to make substantial financial concessions for this: another eye opener from the survey.


It’s all about life and income for today and in the future. Employers can help employees create the right balance in this and at the same time they can be developing a better position for themselves in the job market. But for that to happen, the employer’s contribution must become visible – both literally and figuratively. In the past, you would sometimes see a sign in stores: if you don’t see what you are looking for in the store window, inquire within. The point is that people often don’t know what they want. They won’t come in to ask for something they don’t even know exists. So, display the pension plan prominently in the window, preferably near the front. Needed: Data analyst (M/F), offered: a good salary plus thirteenth month, possibility of permanent contract and an excellent pension plan ...