Making retirement benefits attractive to first-time savers

Helping team understand the value of a retirement plan

The tightening labour market has many employers looking for creative ways to attract and retain talent. That’s why many growing employers are looking to introduce retirement benefits for their staff. Common Good Plan and our partners are seeing higher interest in group retirement plans from small and mid-sized organizations that historically might not have provided retirement benefits, but are changing their mind in this more competitive talent market.

Many employers we work with are introducing a plan for the first time and in the process discover firsthand just how many team members have not yet started to plan or save for retirement. So how can you help first-time savers understand the value of the plan and see it as a financial compensation boost?

Think total compensation, not just salary

A group retirement plan is a collection of savings plans, such as individual RRSP and TFSA accounts, that are administered by an employer on behalf of their employees. It is one of the best ways to save for retirement and allows employees to contribute directly from their paycheque using pre-tax dollars.

When introducing a new workplace retirement savings plan to employees or job candidates, it is best to explain it as part of a total compensation strategy. Any employer contribution or match to the retirement plan should be added to the total compensation number in conversations with employees or recruits. It is likely to be more powerful – and more easily understood – to tell an employee whose salary is $50,000 that they will be getting a $2,500 increase in total compensation, than to tell them that it is a “5% RRSP match.”

People tend to respond better to compensation in dollar amounts than percentages.

Consider communicating a total compensation amount – including the maximum employer contribution to the workplace retirement plan – as part of compensation communications such as:

  • Job postings
  • Offer letters
  • Employment contracts
  • Annual reviews

Want to learn more ways employers can position their new retirement plan in the most positive light with first-time savers? Download our free guide.

Common misconceptions about retirement planning

Myth: There’s no point preparing for retirement.
Reality: Preparing for retirement will make your life much better.

“I’ll never be able to retire, so why bother saving?” “I’ll just keep working.” These are some of the common refrains you hear from people who haven’t started saving for retirement. 

The fact is, most of them aren’t true. 

Here’s the reality:

  • You don’t want to work forever
  • You may want to stop working sooner than you think
  • Even if you do want to work forever, it’s much better to work because you want to rather than because you have to
  • The government won’t take care of you
  • Your older years can be among the happiest in your life

Myth: Most people are on track for their retirement.
Reality: Planning for retirement is hard. Most people struggle. 

If you find the topic of retirement daunting, you’re not alone. Our human nature and our culture conspire against retirement success. 

We are hard-wired to prioritize today over tomorrow. Our fear of losses outweighs our hunger for gains, making it hard for us to make the right long-term investing decisions. We procrastinate when it comes to personal finance, especially so when the payoff is so far in the future. 

Our culture of consumerism, easy debt, and one-click buying pushes us to make near-term purchases rather than save for tomorrow. We aren’t taught anything about personal finance in school, college, or university. No wonder our savings rate is at an all-time low. 


Achieving financial security in retirement isn’t easy. It requires discipline, consistency, and thoughtful attention. But with the Common Good Plan, you will get on a path to retirement success.

The bank is on your side: Myth or reality?

Myth: The bank is there for you

Myth: The bank is there to help. 
Reality: The financial services industry usually makes things harder.

Unfortunately, the financial services industry is part of the problem. While the big banks and insurance companies have done a great job making profits for their shareholders, they’ve done a terrible job preparing Canadians for retirement.

For years, they’ve been charging some of the world’s highest fees on investments, often in exchange for a return that underperforms the market. No wonder nest eggs aren’t growing.

They’ve been holding out as “financial advice” what is really just product sales. The person “advising” you almost certainly doesn’t have a legal duty to put your interests first, hasn’t told you how they are compensated, and isn’t regulated by any government body. They are systematically biased against certain solutions that are actually helpful, and biased in favour of others that often do more harm than good. Every January and February, they aggressively market RRSPs even though many working Canadians would be much better off saving using TFSAs.

Behind the scenes, the big banks and insurance companies have been using their powerful lobbying arms to block laws that protect consumers. They’ve been arguing against common sense reforms like fee disclosure, a “best interests” standard for financial advice, and rules against massive charges if investors withdraw their mutual funds early.

There is a good reason why most savers don’t feel like they’re getting ahead. Unless you are a superhuman saver or an investment pro, retirement success using a big bank or insurance company is nearly impossible.

The good news is that you don’t have to fall prey to the retirement savings rip-off of Canada’s financial services industry. Learn how the Common Good Plan helps members achieve retirement success at an affordable cost.