Why the case for communication has never been stronger13.10.20
Good news, everyone!
I think we could all do with some of that.
You’ve been wondering how to best support employees through challenging times, whilst simultaneously dealing with your own financial pressures and budget restraints. We understand how difficult that can be.
The good news is, there is one really simple way to try and address both of these objectives.
Communicate your benefits
Through challenging times, HR teams, leaders and line managers have been working hard to demonstrate humanity, support and understanding to their people. Regular, meaningful conversation with them has never been more important.
One crucial part of this communication is to inform employees of existing services and resources that might help them feel safer, happier and more supported in their lives. That means not only signposting to relevant benefits – an EAP or life assurance, for example – but also illustrating the value of those offerings in a way that is relevant to the individual.
As well as being a fundamental responsibility for businesses, there are also key strategic reasons why communicating about your benefits offering matters now more than ever.
Improve return on investment
Businesses as well as individuals are facing uncertainty in many areas. Plans have been adjusted; budgets reviewed. So as a reward manager planning your next enrolment, you may feel your scope to develop your scheme is limited. You may be under increasing pressure to wring more from pre-agreed spend, or, perhaps most importantly, to maximise savings from an existing scheme.
So, what’s the best way to maximise your existing offering?
Tell people about it.
It may sound simple, but in the context of a well-rounded benefits scheme, even a relatively small investment in strategic communication can exponentially increase take-up, and thereby improve your overall ROI. If that communication includes promotion of benefits with positive National Insurance implications, the investment can even repay itself several times over.
The business case for improved communication has never been stronger.
Offer employees year-round support
The biggest change teams are now experiencing is perhaps in the frequency of communication required. Two key factors have influenced this: first, schemes are no longer limited to a handful of annual benefits to be selected once a year and forgotten about until the next enrolment. They’re offering a broader range of resources and support services, as well as greater flexibility – with a higher proportion of options being offered for selection anytime. Second, remote working practices have made regular touchpoints – and a more meaningful ongoing conversation with employees – a key part of the wider approach.
All of which means that communicating your reward offering cannot remain a once-a-year consideration. People require support and information when it’s relevant to them, not just when it suits us. Regular, ongoing education about what’s available is crucial to getting the most out of your scheme.
Deliver better employee engagement
Honing your communication approach to people’s needs doesn’t just improve take-up of individual benefits. It also feeds the business’s wider strategic vision and goals. Effective communication includes not only practical information on how and when to access benefits, but also education on why: explaining the value of those benefits in real, identifiable life.
Your business values might say, ‘We care for our people’ but this won’t fully land with an employee until they see examples of how this positively impacts them in practice. That’s why communicators seek to draw connections between what’s on offer and the broader strategic narrative behind that offering.
Let’s say you already offer people the opportunity to add their family to a host of health and protection benefits. By taking the time to highlight this to employees – not only how and when to make use of this benefit but why (why, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is so relevant to them, and why the business offers this support in the first place) we help them appreciate the value of their reward offering whilst also deepening their connection to the business and its values. In doing so we create the right conditions for employee engagement, which, as we know, drives a whole host of positive outcomes – 40% lower employee turnover, 18% higher productivity, increased profits and stronger growth.
The cupcake scenario
Think back to life in the office: there was no point buying cupcakes for the whole team – to say thank you for doing a great job on a particular project – only for these delicious confections to sit uneaten on the kitchen table because nobody knew they were there. Without communication, those cupcakes were a waste of money, and the meaning behind gesture – warmly intended though it was – completely lost.
So it is with benefits. Tell people they’re there, explain why, and see the value you get from your scheme soar.
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Ed is a Communications Consultant at Benefex.