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Introduction

Question: 
What’s the value (or cost) of your organisation's employee benefits package if your employees don’t know about it?
 
Answer: 
Questionable, if the latest research from Canada Life is indicative of current UK employee benefits communications: 
 
  • A third (34%) of employees – equivalent to 11.2 million people – wish their employer would communicate more about the workplace benefits available to them, and…
  • …one in five (20%) received information about the benefits available to them when they first joined but never again, while one in ten (9%) have no idea which benefits, if any, are available to them. (source: Canada Life 2019)

 

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.

 

workplace-speech"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.

 

 

 

Employee benefits communication: the basics

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 

(source: It's Time to Change, Punter Southall Aspire 2018)

Why employee benefits communication matters

Workplace Pension Communications

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In research we carried out with over 2,000 UK employees in July 2018, we found the following: 

  • 84% of employees want to be kept informed of what they need to do with their pension
  • 85% want to be kept up to date with the latest developments around their pension
  • 82% want to be guided in a positive direction for their pension savings
  • 78% want help changing their pension behaviour for the better

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.

Studies show, however, that pensions simply don't engage people.

We think the way they're communicated is part of the problem.

And we're here to solve it.

Resources

What do employees want from pension communications?

Read our research report, It's Time to Change, to find out.

 

 

Get my copy

survey pension communications

Only 13% of employees worldwide are actively engaged at work. (source: Gallup study on the State of the Global Workplace)

Why employee engagement matters

What is an 'Engaged Employee'?

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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 believe that to drive real change, and help improve business performance, we must be bold, impactful and meaningful.

We take a consumer-grade approach, settling only when we’ve done the best and know our solution is truly Next Generation. 

Key employee benefits

Here's a quick recap of some of the most popular employee benefits on the market, excluding pensions.

 
Understand the different options available to you

Employee Engagement

Segmentation

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?

Segmentation is the answer.

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.

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Powerful

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.

 

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Targeted

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.

Understand your employee's DNA.

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Personal

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.

 

Innovative Communications

Using video in pension comms

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.

 

 
If you are trying to get staff more engaged with pension comms, you can't ignore video

Employee Engagement

Our 5-step model for employee pension communications

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

OBJECTIVE

Raise awareness of the need to save and for employees to take advantage of the benefits you offer

Step #1 to get employees to save more 

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Step 2: The 'getting ready' stage

People are now thinking and planning to make a behavioural change.  An intention is starting to form

OBJECTIVE

Introduce concepts around how and why people should save more. Simple and easy to follow communications

Step #2 How and why people should save more

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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

OBJECTIVE

Provide process, tools, and content to allow people to prepare to put in place their action plan

Step #3 A question for employees preparing to save more

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Step 4: The stage beyond just thinking and preparing to act

People have now implemented an action that has changed a behaviour

OBJECTIVE

Model and review financial scenarios to match future lifestyle requirements in the context of increased savings

Step #4 The last hurdle to saving more

 

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Step 5: Often the biggest challenge

Maintenance is the crucial ongoing stage that maintains and supports the person's actions

OBJECTIVE

Support individual behavioural change using accessible, engaging and relevant communication channels

Step #5 How to make the workplace savings habit stick

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Feedback from our communications workshops

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

Creating your employee benefit communications strategy

Of course, not everyone is going to have the time and resources to start an employee benefit communications programme from scratch.

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.

 

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Click to download

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Employee Engagement

Top UK employee benefits

What are some of the top benefits offered by UK employers to their employees? (Source: UK Employee Benefits Watch 2017/ONS)

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72%

Workplace pension

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65%

Occupational health

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65%

Critical illness cover

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62%

Employee assistance plan

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Employee Engagement

Sell the sizzle, not the sausage

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'.

Employee Engagement

DX Solutions

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:

 
Our digital learning experience (DX) videos bring bite-size and meaningful learning to your employees

Research

Report: What do employees want from pension communications?

Read our research report, It's Time to Change, to find out:

Get my copy

Time to Change
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Change

It's something we all face.

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.

 

 

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Messaging that fits. Typically, the more targeted and personalised a communication strategy is, the more effective it will be.

 

A tailored approach

Effective benefit, ineffective communication

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.

Testimonials

We recently completed a major pension change project that required a high level of member communication for nearly 800 scheme members. PS Aspire were extremely professional and flexible throughout, delivering a complex message to the satisfaction of all involved.

Hannah Absolom, Electrocomponents

"Punter Southall Aspire ran and promoted a series of pension presentations for us covering general pension awareness and a separate retirement focused 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.

On one of our Comms roundtables: 'Good framework to build our strategy. Lots of ideas to inspire me as I take it back to my company'

Rachelle Reynolds, Accolade Wines

Employee Engagement

Bringing it all together

What you need to consider

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.

To talk about how we can help you, click here to contact us.

 

Employee Engagement

Here to help

Spend 30 minutes with one of our consultants and receive a free engagement audit.