Positive surprises are also important in HR policy

6 December 2022


At first glance, running a pension scheme does not appear to have much in common with deploying employees optimally. But at BeFrank, they think differently. The pension company adopts the same approach for its own HR policy and its pension administration: a focus on people and positive surprises. How do you do that?

“Just like the labour market, the pensions market is currently very challenging.” These are the opening words of Jan Hein Rhebergen, BeFrank’s commercial director. “There are a lot of developments and the competition is intense,” he adds. “You really have to differentiate yourself in terms of customer satisfaction in order to be successful. Similarly, in the labour market you also need to be very creative to recruit and retain talent.”

Throwing a party
The internal HR policy is characterised by a strong focus on people, adds HR advisor Marie-Anne Bekkers. For new employees, for example. “We make signing the contract a really special event. Basically, it’s a rather boring administrative task. But we invite the new employee to our office and they sign with all the BeFrankers present. We pop a confetti cannon, and the new colleague goes home with confetti in their hair. They regularly post pictures of that signing moment on social media to announce their new job. Isn’t that great?”

There is a similar approach on the first working day. “We send over a programme for the day in advance, with some practical tips, so that the person comes in as relaxed as possible. We make sure everything is working straight away, that their desk is decorated, but also that there are already some appointments in their diary, even going as far as a game of ping-pong. And after the first week, they receive a personalised handwritten card in their letterbox at home.”

Marie-Anne Bekkers

Team development
Bekkers and her HR colleagues send other cards too. “We don’t just mark five or ten year anniversaries, but every BeFrank anniversary. With a handwritten anniversary card, with a personal story, about what the person means to the organisation. It costs almost nothing apart from time.”

The pension company has only been in existence for 11 years and now employs 90 people; just over 100 when external workers are included. “We put a lot of energy into building team spirit,” continues Bekkers. “Every year we carry out a team development programme with the whole company. We are currently working on a Profile Dynamics team training programme, for example. We also participate regularly in sports activities in teams and we invite external speakers to talk about work-related topics, but also for fun.”

The focus on people does not end when someone leaves the company, says Bekkers. “Not even if they move to a competitor. With us, they always leave through the front door. We say goodbye with a dazzling drinks party or – if someone prefers – just with cake or a team lunch. We give them BeFrank gifts and collect money from all their co-workers to buy a personalised farewell gift.”

BeFrank recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, delayed by Covid. All former employees were also invited to this. “We celebrated it together with everyone who has contributed to BeFrank’s success. The result of this approach is that all our former employees are still ambassadors for us. They like posts on social media, suggest new employees and speak positively about us in their new work environment.”

Positive surprises
“At its heart, it’s about positive surprises,” explains Rhebergen. “That is also what we also try to do with employers and pension scheme participants. We are always there for them, just as we are for our employees. We take away their worries.”

He points to the BeFrank Selection Tool, a tool that gives insight into the impact of the pension agreement for employers, including the choices they thereby have. “The employer can use this to get to work with their advisor straight away.” The pension administration (“Nobody in HR really enjoys that”) is linked to the payroll system, so HR doesn’t have to worry about it. “Our employer portal makes the material easy and clear. Clients give it an average rating of 8.1. That really is a world record in the pension world.”

“Another decisive factor is how you deal with situations where something goes wrong, when things get really tense,” he continues. “That’s the time when you can make a real difference. It’s part of our employees’ attitude. Our app can be copied, but our DNA cannot.”

Jan Hein Rhebergen

Greater appreciation of pensions
The app to which Rhebergen is referring is available to participants. It offers insight into pension accrual and the choices available in that regard. “A pension is future salary. If you communicate this message positively and engage the employee, their pension becomes a lot more interesting.” BeFrank also explains a lot about pensions in videos. “We like to make it a bit more fun and encourage participants to make their own choices as much as possible.”

“Obviously, many choices have already been made by the employer. But participants get to decide how they want to invest, for instance. Do they want it to be purely sustainable? Do they want to make extra contributions? They can make those kinds of choices in the app, which always provides insight into their pension. 80% of all participants log in. Appreciation of the employer increases sharply as employees become more engaged with their pension. This will only become more important with the new pensions system. We are already well-prepared for that.”

“If you have no influence over something, you’re not engaged either,” concludes Rhebergen. “Discussions about free lunches can sometimes get quite intense, while engagement with the pension – which is, after all, one of the most important employment benefits – is often low. That’s a shame. As an employer, you put a lot of money into a pension scheme. You should get more appreciation for that. You can do that if you flag the value of pensions to your employees properly.”

This article appeared on PWnet on 2 December and 15 december in PW magazine.