One of the common challenges is that no-one has direct responsibility for personal communication with employees about benefits. Is it HR? Is it their line manager? Should individuals self-serve from the intranet? Information is usually provided during onboarding (along with everything else they need to know), and operational questions usually get answered, but there is often no real strategy for ongoing dialogue and regular benefits or reviews with the employee. Even total reward statements rarely offer clear information on the potential advantages an employee could be missing out on.
Handing out a leaflet or directing someone to a website may be efficient, but it’s not the greatest way to communicate a benefit scheme. For a start, many people will be suspicious of something that seems ‘too good to be true’. And others simply won’t understand the long-term advantages they are being offered, and how schemes can provide genuine financial and lifestyle benefits.
So what’s the answer?
Well, there are plenty of solutions (appoint ‘champions’ for each scheme; publish testimonials; circulate regular updates and bulletins). The most important thing is to recognise the ‘awareness and understanding’ challenges in the first place, and prevent your benefits schemes from fading into the background of your employees’ collective consciousness.
It’s also a good idea to ensure everyone receives up-to-date information and is offered appropriate choices according to their stage in the employee lifecycle. For example, someone could have worked for you for several years and never given a second thought to childcare, and may even have forgotten that you offer tax-efficient savings. Once they’ve become a parent, their life and their needs will have changed dramatically, and a personalised proactive communication from you as their employer will be very welcome. “I didn’t even need to ask!” is potentially a powerful endorsement of your reputation as an employer.
Triggers might include:
- New starters
- End of probation period
- Maternity/paternity leave
- Change of address – are they now within cycling distance of work?
- Contract renewal dates – capture employee interest and contract renewal dates when you launch Phonescheme and remind employees when they are due for a new phone
Case studies and testimonials from colleagues are useful for illustrating the advantages of each benefit available – nothing beats testimonials from people you already know and trust. Ideally, you should also be able to offer live modelling tools that can calculate and demonstrate the possible impact and advantages for each person, based on the choices they make. Being able to ‘play’ with the options available can greatly enhance the employee’s sense of understanding and ownership of their benefits package.
The bottom line is that if you want maximum value from your benefits offering – and value here includes the advocacy, endorsement and loyalty you will get from your employees – then you need to drive uptake. Which means sharing the good news, whenever and however you can.
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