Many organisations in the past have developed excellent employee benefit schemes, only to see uptake fall well below 50% of the workforce due to lack of awareness of what’s on offer.
That’s a great shame, especially in times when benefits can provide people with much-needed support with the cost of living and keep them engaged and motivated.
My colleagues Melissa Gannaway and Courtney Dobson from the Edenred Client Communications Team work on devising strategies for improving benefits uptake every day. Here they share their top ten tips for effective communications that will get people on board and make sure your scheme has maximum impact.
- Be timely
In the run up to launch (or re-launch), build excitement by giving employees a heads up about what’s to come. However, any ‘teaser’ needs to be timely and transparent. Being vague about what you are going to be offering and when is only likely to create a sense of mistrust. When you’re sure of your launch date, go live with your teaser communications one to two weeks in advance.
Think about the other communications coming out of the organisation too. People don’t distinguish between communications received from HR vs IT, or other departments, so make sure you complement what they are saying and avoid clashing with any big announcements.
- Be clear
Be clear about the benefits of your benefits. Key messages should include:
- We’re providing a scheme with your physical, financial and mental wellbeing in mind
- We’ve chosen benefits that will complement and support your lifestyle
- We’re aware of the pressure on the cost of living: we have 100s of discounts that can help make your money go further
- Here’s what you need to do to access your benefits
- This is when we’re launching
- Cover all touch points
Create your supporting communications – this should include posters, demo videos, emails, how-to guides and FAQs to name only a few.
Next, map out the internal communications channels you can use to get the message across. For example, if your organisation uses Teams or Slack, set up a channel where you can share the latest news and discounts. This is a great way to get the conversation going among employees. And don’t forget about those who are offline – how will you best reach them? Make use of heavy footfall areas such as coffee and lunch areas, locker rooms and bathrooms.
- Be accessible
Around 18% of people in the UK have a disability, so you must make sure all your materials are accessible. Carry out a WCAG AA accessibility audit. Add subtitles, label docs and images with alt-text, and avoid ‘click here’ on links to help people who use screen readers. Also, avoid text in imagery. It’s not accessible for people with sight loss – there’s only so much you can say in alt-text (the text you add to explain what an image is for those with screen readers).
- Engage line managers
Line managers are your benefits champions. Ensure they have all the information they need before launch. Ask them to play demo videos at team meetings, share how-to guides and add wellbeing benefits to 1-2-1 meeting agendas.
- Target new starters
Engage new employees at the start of their journey with you. It’s the time when people are most receptive to learning about benefits. Make sure benefits are a key part of your new starter induction process – whether you do welcome emails, face-to-face induction days or new starter packs – there’s plenty of opportunity to share.
- Engage face-to-face
Typically, you’ll see a 60+% increase in engagement compared to the previous month following face-to-face events. Webinars are useful too, indeed essential if most of your people work from home. Pick your timing well. Consider what else is going on in the business and when people are likely to be in the office. Wednesday and Thursday, around lunchtime, are usually the best times to hold webinar or roadshow events.
- Repeat and repeat again (…but keep the message fresh)
People need to hear a message seven times before they’re able to retain it. Repeat messaging in different ways to drive awareness and get people to act. Be creative too. We’ve seen TikTok style videos starring senior leaders that have had a huge impact on awareness.
Create a calendar of awareness days, events and seasonal promotions to tie in messaging about your benefits. Example: If you have a Cycle2Work scheme, talk about it when it’s National Bike Week or Cycle to Work Day. Think about Black Friday and Christmas too – the two best times to get your message about discounts across.
- Keep up the momentum
Showcase your benefits and the best savings available in weekly internal newsletters to keep your scheme front of mind. In our experience, this will increase long-term engagement by 50%.
- Make benefits a two-way conversation
Finally, send out regular pulse surveys to check in with employees. Are they using the benefits? Do they know what’s on offer? You may need to rethink your tactics if they don’t.
Also ask your people if they have a story to tell. Ask them to share their tips on getting the most from their benefits, how much they’ve saved and how much better they feel. Create case studies. Spread the word through social channels like your Teams Channel and Yammer. There’s nothing quite like word of mouth to help you get the message through.