Why well-orchestrated communication is key to ensure benefits buy-in from employees

Introducing a new benefit is not a lot different to introducing a new product to your customers. Using a well-orchestrated, carefully thought out variation of classic communication planning and strategies, you should be able to set yourself up for success and see great engagement from your employees. 

Conducting an orchestra

Some of the top tips from You at Work clients surveyed last year included: having a strong, ongoing benefit communications plan - vital for high adoption; building excitement and anticipation in the run up to the launch of the benefit; finding out the easiest way for employees to consume information during the work day; and using all comms opportunities available.

So, think about who are you going to promote to, what are you going to say to them, how are you going to say it, when are you going to say it, and where are you going to promote it?  Plus, always work with the provider of the benefit.  They will have a good understanding of what does and doesn’t work.  

You’ll need a plan for pre-launch and launch and, if you are going to make the benefit available outside of a window, it will be imperative to plan to keep the communication going all year round otherwise employees will likely forget about it. Plus, include any information in your new joiner’s pack.

So, before we get on to strategies, let’s just step back for a sec...

Have you asked employees what they want?
It seems obvious, but if you know what employees want, and you follow up on it, they might be more inclined to read and digest any new benefit launch with a keener appetite.  You can also remind employees in any promotional material that this is what they asked for and you delivered!

Have you got all of your comms bases covered?
How do your employees currently receive information?  Are you making the most of the channels available?  Do you have drivers on the road, for example, that need a more unique way to see or hear about the benefit. Where do employees congregate the most?  At water coolers? In a staff room? Do they pass a corridor every day that is a prime site for viewing?  Are there TV screens set up anywhere that could carry a message?  Carry out an audit and make sure you have all of the bases covered.

What will success look like to you?
Not every benefit is going to be right for every employee.  So, as well as take-up, consider other goals that you might set around the benefit launch. Maybe you want to increase awareness about your scheme in general, or support employee engagement by reminding them about the good things your company is doing.

And now ... time for the plan

What does your employee base look like?
Who are you going to be promoting the benefit to? What are their demographics? Employees are all likely to be at different stages in their lifecycle eg millennials vs those about to start a family vs employees about to retire, and will have different reasons for wanting to take out the benefit. Can you segment your employee base to hone down the messages that you give them? 

Talk to them directly ...
If you’ve done your segmenting above, plan what you want to get across about the benefit, and your reasons for introducing it, to each specific audience.  Talking directly to a subset of individuals and solving a particular problem for them will resonate far more than a generic message sent to everyone.   

How you ‘gonna’ say it?
Think about your tone of voice. What would fit with your own organisational way of talking?  Maybe you want to create a different tone to the benefit comms to be more impactful? Also, be creative with your visuals so they stand out and are immediately recognisable, making sure that all mediums are consistent with your campaign. And, remember, everyone loves a story. So, tell employees about how others have benefited from the benefit you’re offering them.

Get the timing right ...
Timing of comms plays a big part in making sure employees acknowledge them. Work with your platform provider to know what time of day most employees usually login to the platform or read emails.  Our experience on the You at Work platform is that the most popular time for logging in is 10am and employees tend to see and read most emails around 3pm. Think about the time of year – will you get a high take up if you introduce Cycle To Work in November? Probably not.  So maybe think about Spring as a better time to maximise engagement.

Apply the rule of 7 ...
Do you know about the Rule of 7? It’s a marketing principle that means that employees would need to come across the benefit offer at least seven times before they really start to notice it and decide to take action.  Do you have 7 ways to communicate?  If you’ve carried out your audit above then make the most of those channels to get the message out there. 

Putting it all into action ...
You’ll have done your audit and you’ll know which methods are going to work best for your company, so create the most effective mix for your benefit launch and ongoing.  

Get them excited ...
Build interest and anticipation so that your staff are eager to see what’s coming their way. A teaser campaign should drip-feed information on the benefit, including what it is and why it’s a great benefit for them. That way, once you launch, staff are already interested and ready to sign-up. 

Have a big launch 
Utilise every form of communication you have with your employees. That’s likely to include posters, desk-drops, payslip messages, e-mails, digital media such as videos, a stand in the canteen, social media if you use it, and banners on your own intranet. Create as much buzz as possible. Don’t worry about being too loud, you want everyone to know about your exciting new benefit!

Carry out seminars or roadshows
In our survey, one client stated that "Roadshows or seminars for selected benefits, explaining what savings employees could make, and why they should consider it now, worked for us, especially for financial benefits often overlooked because of lack of understanding."  If your workforce is too spread out then how about setting up webinars they can log into from the comfort of their own desk, or perhaps for those out on the road, consider recording a podcast.

Follow up
Ensure your platform can send follow up emails to those that perhaps have a benefit sitting in their basket but haven’t yet hit the apply button. You can also keep the information flowing around the benefit by scheduling emails from your platform every couple of months with subjects such as top ten reasons to buy this benefit, stories from employees or specific promotions from the provider etc.  Also, use your internal newsletters, and a mix of the comms mentioned above to ensure the benefit stays front of mind with your employees.

Finally, you may well be introducing the best benefit since sliced bread, but if you don’t plan, get your employees engaged from day one and keep them engaged, you could face either low take-up rates or fail to achieve the goals of success you set yourself. Sometimes though, even the best benefits don’t work for certain organisations, so don’t ever be afraid to drop unpopular to non-performing benefits in favour of something new and exciting! If you follow some of the tips above, however, you’ll be off to a great start. 

This article is provided by You at Work. 

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