Once you’ve selected your provider and finalised your company’s benefits offering, it’s time to prepare for the all-important process of implementing your programme. How you handle the early stages of your benefits scheme delivery will significantly influence its overall success.
You need to tick off all the operational and logistical tasks, refine your scheme details, and coordinate your internal communications in order to seamlessly integrate your benefits into company culture and get your employees engaged from the offset.
As with many things in life, preparation is key and when it comes to your benefits programme it will help you reap the rewards of a truly engaged workforce later down the line. To provide you with valuable guidance, we’ve outlined the key stages of implementation, referring to our very own process that we use with our clients.
Step 1: PRE-LAUNCH
Before you launch your benefits programme, there are a number of different project components to work through and confirm. At this stage of the implementation process, your benefits offering will be an idea and an objective, rather than a fully developed, tangible and deliverable programme.
At peoplevalue, we assign one of our expert Account Managers to a client at this stage, to guide our them through the implementation of advantage, our benefits and discounts solution.
Set your launch date
First off, decide when you want to deliver your benefits programme to your employees. When might be the most impactful time to launch? By setting yourself a target, you can then work backwards and create deadlines for the various tasks and activities required to achieve the goal. This date doesn’t necessarily have to be fixed as there’s always the chance of unexpected delays, but having an end goal in mind will drive the process forward.
Define your KPIs
In order to measure the progress and success of your benefits programme, you need to determine what success actually means to your company from the start. Outline your objectives and then come up with some measurable values. For example, this could be having 50% of employees registered on your benefits platform within the first six months. Whatever your KPIs are, it’s crucial to establish them at the beginning so that they can be used to help shape the rest of the implementation process.
Step 2: PROGRAMME DETAILS
In this next phase, you need to develop your benefits programme from an idea to a complete scheme, ready to be rolled out.
Confirm the scheme name and brand
What is your benefits programme going to be called? How is it going to look? These elements are critical because your scheme needs to be aligned with your company brand and values, and needs to be positioned in a way that will connect with your employees.
Where will your benefits scheme be hosted?
Whether your benefits scheme is hosted on a separate branch of your corporate website, has its own bespoke URL, or can be accessed via your company’s flexible benefits portal, it’s good practice to have one easy to access place for all. Once the access point is confirmed, the associated URL can then be promoted in your communications.
What exactly are you offering?
To effectively launch your programme, you need to determine which benefits you’re offering to your employees and at what stage of the scheme lifecycle they will be offered.
For example, our advantage voluntary benefits solution includes many modular features such as: a comprehensive range of retail discounts; a fuel savings card; free to enter competitions and Lotto; and a host of emotional, financial and physical wellbeing services such as credit checks, EAP and discounted gyms, to name a few.
During the implementation phase, we work with the client to establish exactly what they want their scheme to include at the launch phase, and what we will introduce after the launch to keep the scheme fresh and engaging for users. Doing this keeps the initial messages clear and simple for employees to understand.
Configure your access method
An important consideration for your benefits programme, is how your employees are going to access the scheme. The access method you choose could ensure success or lead to poor engagement and subsequent perceived failure of the scheme, so be sure to consider this step carefully.
If your employees are already engaged with a flexible benefits scheme you’re currently running or they regularly log into your intranet, then you should consider Single Sign On (SSO) access from these to the scheme to avoid issuing another set of access information.
If this is not possible, then the access method you choose could be determined by the employee data you have. If, for example, all employees have work email addresses, then using this to enable registration may be the simplest way forward. If this is not the case, then issuing a unique code or usernames and passwords may be necessary. Either way, to simplify your communications methods in the future, make sure that the registration process can be easily understood and completed by employees without the need for personalised communications, where possible.
Step 3: SCHEME EMPLOYEE DATA
Once you have determined your access method, you then need to assemble your employee data so that personal accounts can be set up by your provider. At this stage, it’s good to think forward with regards to your reporting requirements. For example, if you’d like your provider to be able to report engagement and usage by a particular department, work location or role, then this data will need to be provided in addition to the basic employee data.
Data exchange process for joiners and leavers
An agreed and secure data exchange process for scheme joiners and leavers is critical so that everyone who’s supposed to have access to your benefits programme, does. Work out how often you should and can update your employee data – it could be once a month or once a week, for example. It’s important that you stick to your agreed process so that all scheme stakeholders, including your providers’ customer service team, can effectively deal with queries from employees trying to access the scheme.
Step 4: DESIGN & COMMUNICATIONS
Now that your operational tasks are complete, it’s time to focus on what your benefits programme will look like, and how exactly you’re going to launch it to your employees.
Brand generation and application
Developing your benefits programme’s brand is an important part of the implementation process. You want the look and feel of your scheme to represent your company brand, culture and resonate with your employees. Having already established this when defining your scheme details, at this stage you should be able to simply put everything into action and apply your branding to all the relevant places such as the scheme website and all communications materials.
With your branding fixed in place, you can then move on to create your scheme communications plan. Whether it’s done in-house or you use an external provider, deciding your communications approach and measuring its performance will keep you on track and help maximise success.
When planning, we recommend that the proven most effective communications channels should come first. The goal here is to make everyone aware of the scheme and then encourage them to make that commitment to access and use it regularly.
We’ve found that running teaser campaigns which may include a series of emails, posters, desk drops and flyers are an effective way of building awareness pre-launch.
We then use a multi-channel communications approach using paper, face-to-face and digital delivery to ensure all employees are informed of the benefits that are available to them.
Step 5: FINAL PRE-LAUNCH SUPPORT
Everything is ready to go ahead of the launch, so now is a good time for some final actions that will support the implementation of your benefits programme.
At peoplevalue, we believe that it’s all about the people, so we suggest that a people-to-people approach is optimal at this stage to start introducing your benefits scheme ahead of the launch. You could conduct a roadshow to your employees to demonstrate how everything works, or managers from across the business could provide training sessions to explain your benefits in more detail. However you decide to do it, taking these final steps rounds everything up and increases your chance of having a successful launch.
Step 6: LAUNCH
Time to launch your benefits programme!
Remember to celebrate the launch of your scheme and let everyone know it’s arrived and ready to go.
With a communications plan in place which should ensure a high-profile launch, now is the time to ensure everyone is accessing the service as expected. Be either directly or indirectly present so employees know where to go for help at this critical time.
Check in with your providers on a daily basis and ask for initial scheme access and usage data for the first few weeks. This simple health check can give you critical information regarding the performance of your scheme. Remember, you should have set your engagement targets so compare actual values to see if you’re on track.
Step 7: POST-LAUNCH ACTIVITIES AND REPORTING
So, the scheme has launched successfully and now the real work begins to ensure performance targets are met and, even better, exceeded.
To do this, not only do you need to deliver your communications plan, you need to maintain regular reporting to get a consistent insight into your scheme’s performance. Consider also measuring employee feedback via a quick poll or survey and feed that into any future improvement plans.
With this continuous review cycle and regular catch-up meetings in place with your provider, your scheme should begin to deliver the return on investment you envisaged. We hope you found this step-by-step guide useful. For more information on how we can help you implement a benefits programme that will effectively enhance employee engagement for your business, click here.