For some time now we have been stating that no matter how great your employee benefit package is, you need to spend time communicating it properly. Employees need to be helped to understand the benefits on offer, where possible in terms of actual monetary value. Only then can they see the value of the package, helping you to reap the benefits in terms of employee motivation and retention.
Recent research, for example from the CIPD Annual Survey Report on Reward Management in partnership with Benefex, 2012 backs up our view.
But communicating effectively with your employees is not as challenging nor as expensive as it might seem, especially if you remember that you are competing for your employees’ attention. Although it is in their interest to engage with their benefits package, there are so many other distractions. You need to encourage them to read about it. Even something as basic as always addressing the employee by name when communicating the benefits can make a real difference.
Recognising that not all employees will be interested in the same benefits at the same time can also be an effective way to make your communications more effective. For example, the young, unmarried, childless employee is not likely, at this stage, to appreciate the benefits of life assurance or nursery/childcare vouchers, but might value other benefits such as buying extra leave, ride to work schemes and shopping vouchers. So when explaining the benefits, why not split the audience and try to order the benefits so that those most likely to appeal to each particular group are shown first?
You should have the information you need at your fingertips, so use it to help your employees by providing information tailored to their needs.
The other side of getting your employees engaged is the presentation of the material. How you show the message also impacts on the success of the communication. Your employees will know how much care and attention you put in to communicating with your external customers. So treat your employees as your internal customers, producing internal communications to the same standard as external communications. This shows your employees that you do consider them and the benefits on offer to be valuable. And make sure that it is clear that the communication is from you – that the benefits are being paid for by you, the employer, even if provided by AN Provider. At the very least this usually means making sure the communications have your logo on it, and are in your branding.
Using such methods has resulted in our clients seeing unprecedented levels of engagement.
General information is all very well, but making it easy for them to work out the value of the benefits is the next step. Here total reward statements can help, but generally these tend to be an annual statement, inevitably out of date by the time they are received. Nonetheless, if well-designed and engaging, they can help.
Increasingly many employee benefit providers offer online portals, which show the monetary value of the benefits they provide in real time. These go some way to help employees see the value at a glance, and get a feel for more of their total package. Our response to this problem is to offer ‘The Works’ – a platform that, by pulling data feeds from the benefit providers, can show the employee the monetary value of the total package, including the pension arrangement and other benefits unique to your company.
So if you are one of the companies who is, according to the survey, thinking of increasing your spend on employee benefits this year, make sure that you put in place an effective communications programme to support it.