Four reasons why you can’t beat individual face-to-face advice when it comes to employee benefits
When it comes to employee benefits, disseminating the relevant information to employees is a key challenge faced by all HR and benefits departments. Do you go for the generic broad brush approach, a scattergun methodology or a more targeted, individual strategy that may be more time and labour intensive but could be more effective in the long run?
And once you have decided on the approach, how do you carry it out? There’s a huge range of communication methods available to help spread the word about employee benefits to employees – from traditional paper-based posters, leaflets and brochures to technology-enabled solutions such as websites, intranets, apps and even robo-advice. Understanding which method will work best for your employees and for you as an employer is vital to engaging staff.
However, in truth, all the above methods have their own role to play. But it’s tempting to take the easy route. And it’s also easy to make assumptions – for instance, assuming that digital natives will always prefer to be communicated with via digital methods.
Here are four reasons why face-to-face advice – particularly when delivered in person – can prove the most effective.
1. Face-to-face advice can be personalised to the individual’s circumstances
A key advantage of one-to-one advice is that it is personalised to the employee and their needs. This can vary hugely according to what life-stage they are at or their earnings level, for example. Individuals can discuss their specific worries and concerns as well as gain an understanding of what they need to do to achieve their goal – whether that’s saving for a pension or buying their first house. Many employee benefits specialists will do this in a surgery-type format where employees can sit down with an expert and get advice that is relevant specifically to them.
2. Face-to-face advice can make the employee feel more valued
Such personalisation of advice allows the employee to feel more valued since it’s specific to them and their individual circumstances. They and their concerns are listened to and hopefully resolved. In the age of wellbeing that is crucial, especially when it comes to topics around financial education, since worrying about finances can be one of the biggest causes of mental health problems.
If such advice is delivered face-to-face (whether in person or through video conferencing) the value can increase even more since such meetings are normally in work time, meaning staff don’t have to take time off to sort out important concerns.
3. Face-to-face advice can save time
Face-to-face advice requires an investment in time from employers since it is usually given during the day when employees are at work. But most employee benefits specialists delivering one-to-one advice will do so at the place of work to minimise disruption. Useful advice can be delivered in timeslots as short as half an hour and, because it’s personalised to the employee, their questions are actually answered faster than they would be in a more generic-based approach.
More importantly, enabling focussed advice means employees will be less distracted during the rest of the day and will prevent the otherwise inevitable ‘researching’ while at work.
4. Face-to-face advice ensures engagement
Understanding how and whether your employees are engaging with your employee benefits is key. Is the advice you are providing actually being listened to? Are they actually taking up the advice or do they still have concerns and questions you don’t know about?
One-to-one advice can’t happen without engagement of staff. It also ensures they aren’t distracted by other worries, enabling them to be more productive in their daily roles as a result. With staff often reluctant to talk about financial worries, the benefit of someone being able to read the body language of an employee and encourage them to talk openly and honestly so that they can get the best advice is important.
When it comes to providing advice there’s little that beats a listening ear. Broader brush topics can be addressed in seminar programmes that provide more generic advice and can be great for introducing a subject – such as a seminar for newly employed graduates on buying their first house, for example – but for the finer detail, the value of face-to-face advice is invaluable.
This article was provided by Charles Cameron and Associates.
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