This research will cause many HR and reward professionals concern as employee benefits are a crucial factor in recruiting and retaining talent.
We know from experience that employee benefits communications, especially those that focus on the less immediately tangible rewards like pensions, can often be a challenge to achieve real employee engagement.
Therefore, to help you better evaluate, design and communicate your employee rewards, we developed this web page resource to provide some easy tips, guidance and takeaways as well as some more advanced strategies.
We have used pension communications (our specialty) on a number of examples. However, many of the ideas, tips and strategies can easily be applied to all types of employee benefits communication.
Green text links to research and blogs that will provide further reading and lots of hints, tips and ideas. And, we will continually be updating the main page, so it's definitely worthwhile bookmarking for future reference.
You can use the yellow contents bar at the right to jump between each section, and if you do have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
"Punter Southall Aspire ran and promoted a series of pension presentations for us covering general pension awareness and a separate retirement focussed presentation. Sessions were fully booked and feedback from employees afterwards was positive. As part of our ongoing pension communications campaign, they also provided us with a series of bite sized pension learning module videos and we plan to release each module over the course of the scheme year. Again, these have been positively received to date"
Sarah Edmonds, Payroll & Benefits Manager, Bespak Europe Ltd.
What is employee benefits communication?
The art and science of communicating with your employees to ensure they understand, value and engage with the range of employee benefits available to them.
As an employer, you provide a range of benefits to your employees, anything from dental insurance to childcare vouchers and life cover to pensions. But you don't want to do it in a vacuum.
Unless your employees know about the full range of benefits you provide, and are actually engaged with them, what's the point of your investment?
This is where employee engagement comes in. By using a range of strategic and targeted methods you can ensure that you see the benefit of your benefits spend.
The additional gain?
Employees' financial behaviour will also benefit, as they understand the implications of their decisions.
72% of employees want their employer to proactively educate them about pensions
In research we carried out with over 2,000 UK employees in July 2018, we found the following:
Employees want their employer to help them understand their pensions, so they can make better financial decisions around them.
As workplace pension members your employees are receiving a valuable benefit. With flexible options for saving and a range of investment choices, plus employer contributions and tax relief, there can be compelling reasons to take pensions seriously.
We think the way they're communicated is part of the problem.
And we're here to solve it.
Only 13% of employees worldwide are actively engaged at work. (source: Gallup study on the State of the Global Workplace)
An engaged employee is one whose personal goals and interests align with the vision and goals of the company at which they are employed.
We believe an employee’s benefits and overall wellbeing are an integral part of the success of an employee’s experience, and hence the success of the business.
We are committed to making the Employee Experience (EX) the best and most engaging it can be.
For too long the industry has taken a ‘vanilla’ approach to communication.
We take a consumer-grade approach, settling only when we’ve done the best and know our solution is truly Next Generation.
Doing it by the numbers? You're probably doing it wrong.
So you’ve come up with your employee benefits communications strategy, and you know the general information you want to convey.
But it’s not as simple as that.
How will you make sure your messages are received loud and clear by your audience?
Your messages must be powerful, targeted and personal if they’re really going to hit home and get your employees to change their behaviour for the better.
You need to go beyond the numbers, and get to what makes your employees tick - their financial behavioural DNA.
Powerful messages are ones that ‘make it real’ for the employee.
It’s easy to think of retirement as something that’s a long way away, but making it real brings it closer and encourages better engagement.
This one is pretty obvious: your messages need to be targeted to your audience if they’re going to be heard as you want them to be.
Understand your audience, and your audience will have a much better chance of understanding your messages.
Are your messages all doom and gloom, or do they appeal to your employees’ emotions in a positive way?
In our recent report 'It's Time to Change', only 38% said they’d respond to ‘guilt’ messages, and 32% to scare tactics.
By making them personal, and keeping it positive, your messages will resonate far more deeply with your audience.
So you've segmented your audience, and come up with a communications strategy - now what? You need a compelling, engaging way to reach out to your employees. A cornerstone of your comms strategy should be video - we believe video is the future of pension comms.
Over the past couple of years, the way your employees have become used to consuming information has changed. That means that if you’re trying to educate them about pensions, the way you communicate with them has to change as well. If you are trying to get staff more engaged with pension comms, you can't ignore video.
Step 1: The 'not ready' stage
At this point, people are unaware of the need to change and are resistant or not motivated to take the next step
Raise awareness of the need to save and for employees to take advantage of the benefits you offer
Step 2: The 'getting ready' stage
People are now thinking and planning to make a behavioural change. An intention is starting to form
Introduce concepts around how and why people should save more. Simple and easy to follow communications
Step 3: The 'ready' stage
People at this stage will have formed a firm intention to act and a clear action plan of how and what to change
Provide process, tools, and content to allow people to prepare to put in place their action plan
Step 4: The stage beyond just thinking and preparing to act
People have now implemented an action that has changed a behaviour
Model and review financial scenarios to match future lifestyle requirements in the context of increased savings
Step 5: Often the biggest challenge
Maintenance is the crucial ongoing stage that maintains and supports the person's actions
Support individual behavioural change using accessible, engaging and relevant communication channels
Very useful - interesting to get other perspectives on comms and view of what works. Interesting stats from the survey - some of them surprising
John Leavey, Carnival UK
If you are not a communications expert, how do you create an employee engagement strategy that will work?
Whether you’re launching a new scheme or looking to review an existing one, we can help. We start by discovering more about your organisation, your overall objectives, your team and your company culture. We then develop insights and employee communications ideas to ensure workplace pensions become a valuable part of your organisation.
We use a 7-point strategic model to help create communications that will work for your audience.
Uniting our expertise in pensions consultancy, workplace savings, individual financial advice, and our work with over 1,200 clients and 200,000 scheme members, our model for optimising pension communications is a tried and tested, systematic approach.
We use this model with our clients to develop an objective-led communication strategy that aims to effectively change their employees’ pension behaviour for the better.
Now you've defined your strategy and objectives, what next?
The number one rule of marketing is this: “Sell the sizzle, not the sausage”. The idea is that people don’t so much buy a product as buy the benefits it gives them, and the feeling they’re left with.
We might like to think of ourselves as rational consumers, but we’re actually not that interested to hear that “this sausage contains 52.5% pork”. We want to know that they smell and taste delicious; and that when we throw those sausages on the barbeque, surrounded by our friends, we’re going to feel like a popular host. The same principle applies to workplace pensions.
The bottom line number showing how much is in an employee's pension pot is just a piece of technical information. But it is directly related to the kind of lifestyle they're looking for, to their dreams and hopes for the future.
So your pension communications have to take the same approach, and 'sell the sizzle, not the sausage'.
We create compelling communications.
If you have a pensions message you want to get through to your employees, how can you cut through the noise and get them excited?
Take a look at the video below to see a few examples of some of the communications packages we provide:
A rapidly changing political and economic landscape, combined with new technologies, market disruptors and shifting demographics, means many organisations are dealing with change. The way we work, the places we work in and the work we do are also shifting.
That means employers need to change the way they engage with their employees. And in today’s market, successfully engaging with your people can be pivotal in creating and maintaining a competitive business.
The more bespoke you go, the more impact you’ll inevitably have.
Messaging that fits. Typically, the more targeted and personalised a communication strategy is, the more effective it will be.
It's true that many employers offer their staff a pension.
What’s surprising, though, is how little engagement and interest employees have in their pension scheme.
It means that this costly benefit your business is offering may not be pulling its weight. We believe it’s down to scheme providers not always supporting employers effectively throughout the communication process. Which begs the question: Should you leave pensions communications to the the providers?
Whether you’re launching a new scheme or looking to review an existing one, we can help.
We start by discovering more about your organisation, your overall objectives, your team and your company culture. We then develop insights and employee communications ideas to ensure workplace pensions become a valuable part of your organisation.
We believe employee benefits and workplace pensions should be rewarding.
They should be a key part of your employee proposition. Something your people value and appreciate.
Something that helps you compete effectively with rivals for the best candidates.
Something that rewards and retains existing staff.
And something that supports and cares for ex-employees when they stop working.
Pensions are about the future, so we think they should be exciting and optimistic.
Pensions can help plan for a life after work, so we think they should be inspiring too.
Pensions can make a stronger organisation by bringing people together, so they should be talked about.
That’s where we come in.