“Pay and performance communications? Yes, we communicated it last year. We sent leaflets and posters out”. That’s the kind of thing I hear in head offices fairly often on my travels. Quite frankly when I do, my heart sinks. I know that executives have the best of intentions when using reward to drive engagement and performance. But by just talking about the collateral needed, I know very well that they’ve probably missed an opportunity to put in place everything else that’s required to help an employee truly buy-in to the organisation’s employer brand – what it stands for and what it means to them. Collateral is a means to an end, not the end itself.

All companies have an employer brand, an image they project to the world stating what it’s like to work there. But, whether companies plan and think about their employer brand, let alone communicate it well, is another matter and another article.

Communicating the employer brand is fundamental to driving performance in line with the company’s vision. Organisations need to build their employer brand, set out the EVP (Employee Value Proposition), instill their stated brand values and culture, and ‘market’ the whole thing to the business constantly and consistently. Employees then have a reason to feel involved, understand and care about what’s being asked of them. The message in the leaflet and on the poster suddenly has real resonance to them individually. Companies that do this not only achieve return on their reward strategy, but have competitive advantage through their people and improved performance.

It all boils down to understanding that communication must be a two-way thing. You can’t just push ideas and expectations out of the blue, especially not today when employees face a sustained period of pay restraint, job insecurity and extra workloads.

Ask your employees to help in the process of carving out a performance management strategy so they know what ‘performance’ means and it isn’t foisted on them. Performance doesn’t have to be just about numbers but the whole value proposition of the organisation. Performance could be sales targets, profit targets, customer service scores, or performance on Net Promoter Surveys (NPS) score from staff, health and safety achievements, CSR achievements, innovations during the year, the list goes on.

Once everyone knows and agrees how to perform better, you can build the correct communication strategy around it. That way the communication has heart, meaning and resonance. It has the power to make a real difference.

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