Company Pension Scheme

Company pension schemes - anything but boring!

The company pension scheme is one of the most important benefits for employees, and offers financial security for their retirement. However, the number of participants in German companies has fallen in the past year, with fewer than half of employees taking advantage of their company’s schemes. What are the reasons for this low uptake, and how can companies improve? 

The Deloitte Company Pension Study 2023¹ provides a comprehensive view of the current situation. In this article, we take a closer look at the key findings of the study, with a particular focus on our area of expertise – communication. 

The current situation


If you were to change jobs, would an employer-financed company pension scheme be a deciding factor? 

49% – Yes, important 
34% – Yes, but not that important 

Company pension scheme participants (employer-financed company pension scheme and deferred compensation) 

44% in 2023 
50% in 2022 

Although a clear majority of employees view the availability of a company pension scheme as valuable when choosing an employer, fewer than half of them actually sign up. Despite – or perhaps because of – current inflation, employees seem to be investing less in savings for their retirement. In comparison to 2022, the number of employees currently interested in a company pension scheme, and the participation rates fell in 2023. 

One of the most important factors for low participation rates in company pension schemes is insufficient communication

Alongside the current economic situation, which is forcing employees to rethink their budgets, this development is due to a range of issues, including the age and income of respondents, and the company size. 

However, it is interesting to note that regardless of current events, since the first study in 2017, the same two main reasons for lack of participation have been given repeatedly— 

  1. Employees are not offered—or are unaware of the existence—of the company pension scheme. 
  2. Lack of money for retirement savings, especially for low-income workers.  

Initially, as experts in communication, we found the first point particularly relevant. Lack of communication means that employees are insufficiently informed about the pension scheme, or fail to find the plan attractive. If we take a closer look, however, even the second reason is a communication issue, as we can use convincing messaging to motivate lower-income employees to consider long-term savings. 

Employees don't know enough about company pension schemes

Even though employees are slightly better informed than in previous years, the following data is still troubling: 

  • Only 45% of respondents felt sufficiently informed. 
  • Only 38% trust the information they receive (compared to 44% in 2022). 
  • 61% of respondents who have a company pension scheme were unable to provide any information on the type of benefit (whether monthly pension or lump sum). 
  • 77% of respondents with company pension schemes did not know that they had vested entitlements, and therefore risk losing parts of their benefits.² 

Employees want a company pension scheme that offers 1) employer subsidy, 2) good communication, and 3) security, return on investment, and flexibility.

How do employees want to be informed?

The researchers also raised the question of the preferred medium of communication. These answers were particularly interesting for us. Employees place a high priority on receiving adequate information. 

When it comes to the communication medium, the most popular remain a traditional print brochure, and individual consultations.   A third of those surveyed would like a short brochure, followed by in-person events, and the distribution of information via the company intranet (21% and 25%, respectively). 11% of respondents would like a dedicated app. Aside from the rise in popularity of the app, these numbers have barely shifted since 2019. 

What does this tell us as a communications agency? It’s all about the media mix – as it always is. There is no clear favorite among employees, and we can assume that many employees use multiple channels to stay informed and up-to-date. 

Employees’ preferred communication medium   

49 % Detailed brochure 
49 % Individual consultation 
33 % Short brochure with the most
          important facts
25 % Information and interactive calculator
          on the company intranet
21% Benefit fair or roadshow 
11 % App 

(Multiple answers were possible
for this question)

The surprising conclusion— There's plenty of good news

At first glance, this data may suggest that participation in company pension schemes has not changed much over the years, and this will remain the case in the future. 

We don’t see it that way, and we have at least three reasons for this optimism.  

  • Good news #1:  The vast majority of employees would like to participate in the company pension scheme.   
  • Good news #2: Employees want effective information.  
  • Good news #3: You can leave the communication to us. 

Of course, as a communications agency, we are unable to help companies that don’t offer their employees a company pension plan. However, if this is “simply” not being adequately communicated, we can discover the hidden potential, develop a convincing communicative strategy, and implement it creatively. So that it suits the company, and its employees. We analyze the target groups, and identify the appropriate tonality and media. 

What’s next? Break new ground and change your perspective

An interesting approach is to change your perspective, and view employees as customers to whom you want to sell an attractive product (your company pension scheme). To do this, you have to take a closer look at the “customer” groups, their wishes, needs, and lifestyles. Using this data, you can develop a strategy, and creative approaches.  For example, you could design an interesting tool that enables employees to explore a rather dry topic in a fun way.  Or you could find an intriguing new name for the rather dusty term ‘company pension scheme’. We are already thinking up creative concepts – and would love to help you.  

With our tried-and-tested Explore – Engage – Shine process, we develop convincing communication and implementation strategies, and a clear, simple, and effective communication concept. Find out about our successful customer projects on our project page.  


¹ Deloitte company pension study 2023 “Company pension schemes in the face of inflation,” representative survey of 2,000 employees subject to social security contributions in Germany. 

² For most employees, the company pension benefit will consist of vested entitlements with various employers with whom they have worked during their career. Since these benefits must be actively claimed upon retirement, a lack of knowledge may result in entitlements not being honored. 


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