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Great benefits poorly communicated is just a waste

Andy Caldicott
benefits

It’s no good providing valuable benefits if your staff don’t know about them!  The old adage, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink, may resonate with some when it comes to Voluntary Benefits and in particular, discount schemes. However, I would take issue with that. As with almost everything in life, it’s all about how you communicate it. Contributor Andy Caldicott, MD – PeopleValue.

It is a well proven fact that engaged employees will be more loyal, perform better and generally go that extra mile when you need them to. According to Government-backed research by Hay Group, people who are motivated and have the necessary skills/equipment to do their jobs effectively are 50 percent more likely to outperform expectations and 54 percent less likely to leave their jobs. The same research found a clear link between employee engagement and an increase in competitiveness and business performance.

High value, low cost staff benefit
Providing a Voluntary Benefits scheme, where staff can take advantage of over 7,000 different offers and discounts to save on their everyday purchases is something that is a low cost for an organisation to provide yet delivers high value to its employees.

The key to getting the most out of your Voluntary Benefits scheme is making sure that your communications about the programme are well targeted. You need to think about the make up of your workforce and ensure you clearly message you are providing something of value to them. Make sure that any specific retailers you highlight are relevant and of broad appeal otherwise you risk disengaging employees if they think “this isn’t for me”.

Tell ‘em it’s coming, tell ‘em it’s here, and then tell ‘em again. How you communicate the benefits also has a huge impact on take-up. Where do your staff go to get information? Not everyone is online, but certainly younger workers (millennials) will be on social media via their mobiles. Older workers may still prefer the company intranet, email, leaflets or posters in the canteen area. A multi-channel approach is typically what’s required. As well as ensuring that you make information easily accessible to all staff, you need to plan your communications.

There are numerous studies that say you need a certain number of touchpoints (anything from 6 to 13) before people take action, so just telling staff about the discount scheme when they join the organisation or hiding it in the staff handbook certainly won’t be enough to get them to engage.

When launching a Voluntary Benefits scheme you need to plan your comms campaign as you would any other marketing campaign. You need to start before the launch, asking staff what benefits/discounts etc they would like, try and get them to contribute. Then you need to tell them it’s coming – make a big thing of it, maybe even hold a launch event. Depending on the demographic of your workforce you may need to consider training, for example, to ensure that they know where and how to access the service, or where to go on the staff intranet/employee hub/portal. Where possible, seek out “scheme champions”; individuals within your organization who are willing to help promote the scheme to their peers. Nothing sells something quite like a recommendation from one of your colleagues or workmates.

Then once launched, don’t just treat it as a box that has been ticked, you need to continually promote the benefit to ensure that staff stay engaged and that new staff are embraced. Each time there is something new, let people know, gather examples of just how much can be saved to whet their appetite.