In the UK, 80% of companies rank employee engagement as their top benefits programme objective – and it’s not hard to see why. Providing relevant benefits, that have a real, positive impact on the lives of employees, can significantly improve their perception of their organisation and the level of discretionary effort they put into their roles. However, employers will have a tough time provoking this response if employees do not engage with their benefits schemes in the first place.
This is reflected in our latest research, which indicates that more than half of companies view the quality of communications as the biggest factor in influencing how employees view their benefits programme. At present though, two in five HR and reward professionals say they have real difficulty communicating benefits effectively. So how can you ensure you end up on the right side of this statistic?
Our research shows that the most effective, engaging benefits communications are built from the same four foundations.
1: Communicate at moments that matter
We see a positive correlation between the frequency employers communicate their benefits offering and how engaged employees are with their schemes. However, it’s not all about how often – it’s also about when. At present employers are focusing most of their communications effort on those going through the recruitment process and new joiners (78% and 76% respectively). But after this, communications steadily decline. Don’t miss a trick here. Critical life changes; marriage, moving house, child birth etc. are often the times when employees will appreciate support the most. Over half (53%) of employees want to receive communication at these times and yet only a quarter (26%) of employers are tapping into this at present.
2: Pick your communications channels with care
Workplaces are getting more diverse. You need to take this diversity into account if you’re to create a communications strategy that really hits-home with every one of your employees. At present however, there is a significant disconnect between the channels employers use to communicate, and the way employees actually want to receive communications. While only 19% of employers think print is extremely or very effective in communicating benefits, 70% of employees want to hear about offers this way. At the same time technology plays an integral role, as employees are far more likely to be engaged in their benefits scheme if they can access it via their smartphone.
3: Segment for success
Who would you be more likely to engage with – a business that sent irrelevant spam? Or one that sent you targeted offers, demonstrating an understanding of your personal situation?
It stands to reason that employers who are segmenting and targeting benefits communications are twice as likely to be very effective in meeting their benefits programme objectives (21% vs. 10%). Their employees are more engaged with their benefits package and with their organisation as a whole. If you want to drive benefits engagement, then you need to ‘get personal’ in your benefits communications. Use these to connect your offering with the lives of your employees. Demonstrate how uptake will benefit their health, financial situation and general lifestyle.
4: Go digital for meaningful measurement
Creating an informed benefits communications strategy is one thing, but achieving long-term success in this area depends on consistently assessing your approach and revising it to ensure maximum engagement. Employers are currently measuring engagement in various ways; through general engagement surveys (75%), exit interviews (67%) and ad hoc feedback (63%). However, while all these approaches gather data, it’s often too disparate to prove the effectiveness of a particular communications approach or too late to effect a change. Greater use of digital communication tools help resolve this, as they provide far more opportunities for instantaneous proof of engagement – e.g. click through rates from an email.
Good benefits engagement depends on a great benefits communications strategy. This won’t be identical for every organisation – but building on the four foundations laid out above to define your own unique approach will streamline your path to success. After this comes the most important part; adopting a continuous approach. You need to be constantly increasing benefits awareness among employees, using data to monitor your approach and assess its ROI. It’s only by doing this, that you’ll truly maximise employee engagement.
To find out more, please download our whitepaper: Communicating employee benefits: driving the value of reward