Employee engagement

red-cash-2A software company I worked with a few years ago used to spend millions on its marketing. And it showed.

On my first visit, their MD insisted I watch their latest video campaign – produced by a top agency – and delighted in telling me which tech stars were going to host an upcoming webinar series. It was all slick, precisely targeted and imaginatively produced. The MD clearly attached huge importance to marketing, and rightly so. But I wasn’t actually there to talk about marketing. I was there because they had a problem with their workplace pension scheme…

The HR department had put a lot of time and thought into choosing the right plan to offer employees, and it was a significant cost to the company. But employees didn’t seem to care, the MD complained, when I finally got him onto our real subject. Employee insight showed that pensions barely registered as a benefit, and no one seemed to have any idea that their package was actually rather good.

“So how do you promote it?” I asked, expecting to get treated to another spectacular video. “We send out a really detailed annual statement,” he replied. “It tells them everything they need to know. They also get a brochure.” I have to admit I was flabbergasted. Here was a company that produced dazzling marketing, doing whatever it took to communicate effectively with its customers. But when it came to promoting one of its biggest benefits to its own people, there was just the barest of information. Was it any wonder that their software was flying off the shelves – while their benefits were all but ignored?

A difficult sell

Workplace pensions are difficult to ‘sell’ to our employees. Most people hear the word ‘pension’ and turn off, especially if they’re young (I find it hard to engage my own children on the subject, and some of them have even interned here at Punter Southall Aspire!)

speechIt can be enormously frustrating for companies that need to communicate changes, that want their employees to appreciate the benefits they pay for, and that hope their pensions package will help them attract and retain talent. But perhaps the most important reason these things don’t happen is that most companies don’t actively “sell” pensions to their employees – not seriously, anyway.

If you want employees to engage with pensions, you need to treat this just like any other marketing challenge. Which means creating an employee engagement strategy that excites and actually does engage people! I would even be so bold to suggest that HR need to become marketers! I’m not saying you have to invest millions, but you do need to come up with compelling messages; produce accessible, imaginative material; use the right channels; the right words; and get creative. It’s crucial you don’t just ‘tell’ people about pensions, but you involve them, finding ways to connect with their personal and professional lives. A dull statement once a year just isn’t going to get the results you want…even if it is accompanied by a brochure.

In fact, with a bit of thought, pensions can actually be made into a – wait for it – an exciting subject...!


Posted by Steve Butler

Topics: Employee Engagement

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