The business imperative for employee engagement is as prevalent as ever. According to Thomsons’ recent global benefits survey, engagement remains the number one strategic objective for 80% of HR and reward professionals. The survey also revealed that 92% of HR and reward professionals believe that benefits play an important role in increasing engagement.
Why bother with benefits engagement?
Benefits engagement isn’t just about getting your employees to login to their schemes online – it is about delivering tangible business advantages. Studies confirm that engaged employees are more productive, provide better customer service, and are more likely to remain with their employer.However, many organisations struggle to engage employees in their reward schemes. According to HR teams Thomsons surveyed, only 22% of employees are currently connected with their benefits package.
What’s the engagement barrier?
Communications are key to engaging employees in their schemes, but their importance is often underestimated. Your employees need to know exactly what you offer, why the package is relevant to them and how they can access their benefits. But conveying this information to employees at a time and in a format that has cut-through can be a challenge.
Some HR and reward professionals are rising to this challenge, developing creative, targeted benefits communications plans that would make their marketing departments proud. The most effective of these plans run throughout the year, driving a continuous dialogue between employers and their employees. This enables employers to quickly identify any shifts in workforce needs, while keeping employees actively engaged in their schemes.
As an HR and reward professional, continuous engagement should be a desirable and realistic goal, but there are still a number of barriers to achieving this. Over half of organisations surveyed didn’t have the in-house capability to improve their communications strategy and over a third (35%) struggled to prove ROI on their benefits spend, which may explain why 23% couldn’t get budget approval for a comprehensive benefits communication campaign that would enable them to reach their goal of continual engagement.
So, how can you build continuous engagement into your benefits communication?
1. Segmentation – Who do you want to speak to?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to benefits communication – all benefits are not relevant to all employees. By segmenting your employees by age, gender, location, life stage or role you can target them with benefits that are specifically meaningful and relevant.
2. Messaging – What do you want to say?
Be sure to build a ‘pull vs push’ messaging engine that compels employees to find out more and get involved. Drive engagement by giving your employees the information they want and need to make an informed decision about their benefits. It’s critical that all communication contains a clear call to action; what do you want recipients to do after reading your communication?
3. Channels – How are you going to reach everyone?
We all like to consume our communications in different ways via different media. Understanding your organisation’s culture and the common behavioural traits of employees is paramount to determining the optimal benefits communication channels for you. Samsung, for example has a young, tech-savvy workforce, and use channels that resonate and can best connect with them. Using an augmented reality app, Blippr, Samsung were able to increase the number of employees joining a pension scheme by 33%.
4. Frequency – How often do you need to be in touch?
Messages should be pithy, concise and delivered often to reinforce your message. Remember, social media can be an effective, low cost channel for regular communication.
Making the case for a continuous engagement strategy
Improved employee engagement is not the only advantage of a continuous communication plan. You can expect to see a reduction in queries from employees, freeing up your time for more strategic work. While there are many forms of communication, digital communication can be a more flexible and lower cost solution, also allowing you to collect improved analytics and data.
Continuous engagement is not beyond the reach of the majority of organisations. In fact, many organisations are already starting to employ this approach today, encouraging greater take-up of benefits and analysing the impact while demonstrating ROI. The real question is – when are you going to start your continuous engagement communications programme?
Written by Vicky Edwards, Communications Manager at Thomsons Online Benefits.
To find out more about how a continuous approach to benefits communication can drive employee engagement, view our webinar, ‘Engagement through benefits – does communication matter?’