Improving our service with AGE UK.

We continue to work with Age UK to train front line employees on the needs and requirements of older customers and the different level of service that they may require from us.

Employees have access to the AGE UK Befriending Scheme so that employees can work with older people on a weekly basis to provide regular contact, help to alleviate loneliness and also understand what it’s like to be in the shoes of our customers.

Age UK gave us a real insight into the physical, mental and financial challenges that come with old age. This was actually fairly scary, as we’ll all be old one day. As well as making me think more seriously about my own retirement planning, it has helped me to reconsider and adjust my approach when dealing with our older annuitants. The simple things that I take for granted, such as opening an envelope and reading a letter or making a phone call can be a genuine challenge for some of our older customers. I now have a greater appreciation of this and am able to make simple changes to the way in which I communicate with our older customers, making it easier for them to communicate with me.”

Ken Cansdale – Customer Relations Consultant, Annuities

Working with Age UK has been very insightful into a large population of our customers. For our people it has brought home the challenges and struggles that the older generation have to deal with and how difficult a ’simple call’ or letter into our offices may be. This isn’t just ’another call’, ’another metric’...these are real people whose lives we can really make a difference to. This reminder has been really engaging and impactive.”

Fleur Newton-Edwards – Head of Learning and Development, Retail Savings Operations

Setting a challenge for employees – Could you live on a State pension?

We all want a fulfilling retirement, but many of us aren’t saving enough to live on when we get there. So we’re working with Age UK to demonstrate what life is like living on the State pension to raise awareness of the importance of saving early for retirement.

This coincided with the roll out of auto enrolment, which has provided a valuable way to get a younger workforce to understand the need for pensions.

We asked for employee volunteers to live off £70 for one week. This is the amount we’ve calculated that you’d have left for food and entertainment out of a single person’s State pension, after travel and housing costs.

Over 130 of our employees agreed to take part in 2012. The money raised will go towards buying a benefit’s checker bus. The bus will be part of AGE UK’s More Money in Your Pocket Campaign and aims to increase the take up of benefits amongst older people who are not claiming.

This is important in that it provides our employees with the ability to put themselves in the shoes of our clients and understand the issues the face.

We had 11 bloggers across the organisation of all levels providing updates on their progress. Below are some of their reflections.

Well, I’m glad the week is over. It has felt like a long one. I did managed to live within the budget, but looking back, I don’t think that is a fair reflection of what it would really be like – I always knew that it was only for a week. A pensioner on £70 a week is able to survive, of course – but it’s not a very comfortable existence. If said pensioner lived away from family, or was ill and couldn’t get about easily, then life would very quickly be very restricted because the cost of travel is so high (although I guess pensioner’s passes must make a big difference). I can’t help thinking, though, that there are working families in this country who probably also have £70 or less per week after rent and transport bills upon which to survive – I really take my hat off to them. If you can feed a family healthily and with some variety, then that’s quite an achievement. Final reflection is that I have become terribly reliant on fast/convenience food during the working week. At least two meals a day, and sometimes all three if I’m working late. And that’s not to mention the odd chocolate bar from the vending machine! I’d like to change that, and maybe this week could be the spur to doing it.”

Chris Knight, Finance Director, Protection & Annuities

So, the challenge is over, I finished the week with some money left over but I was pretty bored of my diet by the end of the week. In reality people on a pension would have been able to have some stock in their cupboards but I ended up having the same thing for lunch most days and dinners were quite bland, that might have also been due to my lack of imagination. I didn’t do much socially last week so went out for a few drinks on Saturday night and also went shopping for a couple of things that I had put off during the week like an outfit for a wedding, I wouldn’t have been able to fit that in my budget.

Looking forward, I think this challenge has made me look at my spending more closely, I will definitely keep more of a track on my food shopping and start bringing my lunch into work as buying lunch everyday ends up pretty expensive. It makes you realise how tough it is for people on a pension and how much planning is involved in a small thing like a trip to the supermarket, or to remember to save if someone’s birthday is coming up, Christmas must be a nightmare, I find it difficult now trying to save for presents and I’m working. I will seriously start thinking about saving for the future and planning ahead, I would like to be able to live comfortably when I’m older and not have to worry about my finances.”

Lauren Eyles, Recruitment Consultant, Kingswood


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