Why better employee communications can maximise the return on benefit investments
Employee benefits are more important than ever in the quest to achieve an engaged, loyal and productive workforce. So they should command a significant investment. The thing is, for employers to see any real returns, the workforce needs to understand, use and value them. It’s as simple as that.
Lists work well for shopping and chores because people know what they want and need, but providing employees with a list of available benefits doesn’t cut it. They often have little to no idea what choices are best. Instead, communicating with the workforce on an emotional level – helping to ensure they understand the value that benefits could provide them and their families – optimises outcomes for employees and employers alike.
The bottom line on this investment – however big or small – is that benefits become redundant if employees have no true sense of their worth.
Five steps to powerful employee communications
- Identify targeted behaviour changes and organisational outcomes.
- Build a communications strategy that’s aligned with the business strategy.
- Quantify the forms of investment required – time, money and effort.
- Communicate with purpose and emphasise why ‘the what’ of each message matters to employees.
- Stay results focused and maintain an ongoing dialogue, to maximise engagement and behavioural results.
Good mileage from existing vehicles
A barrier to effectively engaging employees in benefits often occurs at the line manager level, according to Gatehouse’s State of the Sector report (2018). Already strapped for time to communicate benefit programmes, middle management is often ill-prepared due to insufficient information and training. So they may also lack the knowledge and confidence.
To close this communication gap, it’s well worth educating line managers and stakeholders on key messages, so that they can help address front-line conversation and support objectives around new initiatives and changes. It’s also important to provide these person-to-person behaviour influencers with cost-effective alternatives to mass communication, whilst ensuring the methods used contribute to the intended outcome.
The antidote to information overload
In this digital age when everyone can easily become over connected, new communication channels add to the saturation. That’s why employee communications should work to cut through the noise rather than amplify it. And personalisation – displaying genuine empathy – is key to capturing attention and influencing behaviours.
The most expensive communication cost
Employee communication doesn’t have to be costly. But the lack of it can take an enormous toll on investments in compensation, benefits and culture – and that price tag may be much higher than spending selectively on communication. It’s difficult to compete for talent without rewards, but all too often they’re only as effective as their supporting communications are.
Getting a foothold on strategic employee communication starts with defining what’s most important to achieve for employee and organisational wellbeing. Employers should then tailor their approach to meet these objectives whilst improving the efficiency, engagement and loyalty that determine the strength of business results.
The author is Samantha Healey, head of consulting at Gallagher Communication
This article is provided by Gallagher
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