UK - Unilever is set to unveil a web-based video conferencing service to the 12,800 members of its final salary scheme.
The firm is currently trialling an internet-based system that allows active members of the £3bn Unilever Pension Fund to see and speak with helpline staff live via the internet.
And it says that the system has been so well received, it plans to introduce the service to all its UK members.
Unilever UK Pensions spokeswoman Hannah Clarke said the system – the first of its kind in the industry – would save the company and its members time and money.
She added: “We are centralising HR so we don’t necessarily have the people available to make site visits and this is a great alternative.”
She said that scheme members were able to see documents – such as a statement – displayed on their computer screen while the administrator explained the figures.
Administrators are able to show members calculations on screen as well as “pointing” to parts of the document using the cursor.
Clarke added: “It has been very well received by our members in the trials because they could still see somebody and it acts in the same way as if the administrator was sitting next to them.”
The move was endorsed by the Pensions Advisory Service, which said that anything that improved the communication process between members and their scheme administration was a good thing.
OPAS spokesman Tony Attubato added: “This system lessens the likelihood of misinterpretation by members about their schemes.”
But he warned: “It will add to the costs for members and some members are not comfortable using a telephone let alone the internet.”
Mercer Human Resource Consulting European partner Nick Throp added that many schemes would not have the technical infrastructure to deliver video conferencing.
The Unilever Pension Fund has 12,800 active, 42,400 deferred and 45,400 pensioner members.
The service will be rolled out over the next two months.
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