During 2020 and into 2021 we have accelerated our digitisation plans, pushing more information online and making greater use of websites for member self-service. We’ll see an extension of this over this year and into the future.

From March 2020 we have maintained a telephony presence and brought forward our planned telephony upgrade for our Customer Experience Centres. Further improvements to this service and our wider telephony infrastructure will be rolled out during 2021 as we unlock more of the functionality which this new technology provides.

Despite some client projects being scaled back early in the lockdown, Trustees are now undertaking a variety of new projects, including improving ‘at retirement’ experience and providing access to more retirement options. We are also managing GMP equalisation and preparing for pensions dashboard.

When lockdown was announced we moved swiftly to ensure we could keep our people safe and carry on delivering critical services in a safe and secure way. This involved mobilisation of large numbers of people and kit. Although some of our people already worked using laptops, many did not, so the sheer achievement of moving to home working should not be under-estimated. Like the rest of the UK, we went into lockdown not knowing how long this would last and so have been reviewing our processes on an ongoing basis to ensure they get the best outcomes for our people and our clients whether we are home or office working.

EQ’s HR Solutions function have been busy helping our clients respond to the challenge of supporting their staff through lockdowns. Whilst furlough took centre stage initially, it presented two very different groups which employers still needed to support. Those still working were trying to maintain productivity often under difficult circumstances, distancing in the workplace or managing childcare and internet providers whilst working from home. Those on furlough had a different set of challenges, with boredom and anxiety manifesting in greater demand on financial and mental wellbeing services.

Where employers already had reward and support offerings in place, EQ’s HR Solutions provided assistance in the form of promotional materials and strategies to ensure that those staff who needed assistance knew where to look for help. For employers where this was not part of their current offering, or where the employer wanted to fill gaps in their offering, EQ’s HR Solutions was able to support this through the use of known providers like Better with Money and Healing Cloud.

Seeking the silver lining to the cloud of 2020, many employers are now much more aware of the importance of employee support programmes and the genuine difference which they can make to peoples’ lives.