Anyone watching the 2017 Oscar ceremony will have witnessed the consequences of acting on confusing and misleading communication.
Despite two intelligent and experienced actors in Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, they clearly read and acted on the words in front of them without question, as the envelopes came from a trusted source. But this led to the wrong outcome, which in this case was relatively quickly recognised and rectified leaving only awkward and embarrassed faces.
What does this point to for pension or benefits communications in the workplace? Employees receive this information from a trusted source - their employer or their pension provider. We know that many employees find pensions and benefits confusing and may need more help, education and guidance to understand these communications and how to apply them to their own circumstances. But who is watching to see if individual employees misunderstand these communications and take the wrong action? Who is there in the wings to ensure that poor decisions are rectified?
There may be some process and protection in place for certain decisions such as DB transfers but poor decisions regarding pension contribution levels, fund investment choice, decisions when taking pension benefits, failure to use an employer's EAP for debt counselling, not investing in an employer's share plan but looking for alternative investments will rarely be flagged or rectified unless an employee gets help.
The lesson we can learn from the Oscars is that everyone needs help to interpret confusing information. They need help in making decisions despite written communications. They also need something in place which is a personal check once in a while to ensure that they are on the right track and to review their decision making.
Moonlight wins Best Picture at 2017 Oscars after La La Land announcement screw-up. This moment will be talked about for decades to come.