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30 Sep 2016
by Debra Corey

4 ways to hook your employees into your benefits communications

Picture this: Rebecca Reward Manager just spent the last six months developing the most fantastic new benefit programme. It’s cost the company time and money to set it up, and it will cost the company more money to maintain. She’s spent time convincing the board and the leadership team for sign off, promising them increased engagement and motivation among employees  — well worth the investment, right?!


Rebecca has everything ready to go, so she clicks on the button and sends out the email to her workforce. She sits back and waits for everyone to read the email and start using the new benefit. 

It’s been 20 minutes and Rebecca sees no activity, but figures it’s just taking time for everyone to get through the lengthy email and instructions on how to register for the new benefit. That’s OK, Rebecca needs a cup of coffee, so walks down the street and grabs one, returning about an hour later. Still, nothing, so Rebecca calls the IT department to make sure that the system has not gone down, and they assure Rebecca that it has not. 

Hmmm, Rebecca thinks to herself. What on Earth happened? 

The simple answer to this question is that Rebecca messed up, but the more constructive answer is that Rebecca didn’t give her audience what I call the ‘bait’. You know bait, it’s what a fisherman puts on the hook at the end of their fishing pole to lure and entice the fish to bite. 

Isn’t this exactly what Rebecca should have done to entice her employees to read her email or even better, find an even better and more ‘yummy’ way to get her employees to engage with this new benefit?

Here’s four examples of bait you could use to get your employees biting to read your communications at your company:

 1) Try a teaser campaign

One of my favourite pieces of bait is a teaser campaign, which is where you create a frontrunner to your ‘proper’ communications campaign. You reveal just enough to capture the attention of your audience, creating a bit of mystery, intrigue and of course interest.   

I did this recently when we launched a new wellbeing benefit. We wanted something to drip feed the information so that on the day the wellbeing benefit window opened for participation everyone would jump right onto the site and enroll in the benefit. 

It worked like a charm, with almost 90% of employees signing up during the first enrollment window. In this situation we decided to have the teaser campaign last over a week, as we wanted more chances to draw people in, but in the past I’ve done one teaser campaign.

You decide exactly how often you need to put bait on your fishing pole depending on your individual campaign.

2) Add a ‘face’

A great tip I picked up from Cat Lewis, my company’s internal communications manager, is to add a face to your communication. The situation she faced was that she’d sent out a survey and unfortunately hadn’t had many participants. 

What she did to tackle this challenge was to handle it as if she was having a personal conversation with each and every person. So she wrote an open and honest letter to our employees explaining why she needed their feedback, showing them the face behind the request and helping them relate to the request. Within 24 hours she had increased the survey participation rate by 30%. 

In Cat’s case, the bait was a familiar face - herself!

3) Add a bit of magic

Another tip I received from a colleague, Lisa Turnbull, client communications manager, is something which she calls ‘magic.’  I like to think of it as a secret ingredient you add to your communications mix, something which will push the boundaries, and something your employees will never forget.

Two of my favourite magic tricks from Lisa are magic mirrors and extraordinary posters.  Magic mirrors are a simple yet brilliant tool. The way they work is that you embed a message in the mirror which is revealed to the employee when they stand in a certain place. 

For example, you could have a message say ‘don’t forget that open enrolment ends on Friday’. I don’t know about you, but I definitely wouldn’t forget this message after hearing it from the mirror!

Extraordinary posters are something which Lisa and the team created as they wanted to find a low-cost and practical option for the magic mirror. The way these work is that you embed LED lights in the poster to draw people into their twinkle effect. There’s no way you could walk by this without stopping to check it out! The magic is a great way to lure fish (employees) to the bait.

4) Mix it up

Like it or not, if you do something too often, even if it’s something spectacular, eventually it’s going to lose its wow and impact. To overcome this, and to give your employees the bait they need to continually engage with your communications, you need to mix it up. 

I’m a big fan of communication calendars where you plan out your communications for the year.  This forces you to look at the communication campaigns side-by-side, making sure that you don’t do too much of the same thing. 

We’ve done this recently at my company, using a traditional email campaign, a social media campaign, a video campaign, etc. If you need inspiration think of Cadbury’s marvellous mix-up bags, which have the most random but yummy combinations, and create yourself a communications ‘bag’ of yummy campaigns.

In ending let me share one more piece of advice, one which I took from a fishing manual. The manual says that you should ‘use bait that your target fish enjoy’. Great tip for fisherman and great tip for us as we develop and deliver communication campaigns for our ‘target fish’. Come up with the right mix of bait that will get your employees to bite and engage with your communication campaigns and ultimately your reward programmes. 

Rebecca, happy fishing!!

Debra Corey is group reward director at Reward Gateway.

This article was supplied by Reward Gateway.  


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