How on-demand communications can boost engagement with benefits

Need to know:

  • News and information about benefits sent out just via emails can easily get lost in the swathes of them employees receive each day, and potentially never read.
  • The most effective and immediate communication method for reaching remote and office-based employees is mobile, with push notifications via apps able to deliver the right message at the right time.
  • Personalising benefits communications by sharing personal stories of benefits success, what’s working well and genuinely helping employees, helps to highlight the real value of the benefits.

With many people now dividing their working week between home and office, an effective communication strategy to engage them with news and updates on the employee benefits available to them has never been more important, nor more challenging.

However, some creative thinking and adaptations to regular practices can help, as Amy Tomlinson, head of HR at MetLife UK, explains. “Webinars delivered by external organisations encourage questions and greater interaction among staff,” she says. “An effective way of emphasising the most relevant employee benefits for your organisation is to link them to seasonal hooks. Mental Health Awareness week, for example, can help with signposting employee assistance programmes and how to access them.”

Remote workers rely on digital communications but can become overwhelmed by the volume generated. Employers can find it hard to ensure that their communications cut through the noise and are seen. “Avoid just sending benefits news out in emails as these can easily get lost among the swathes of them employees receive each day, and the continued bombardment of emails may lessen their impact,” says Jason Brennan, director of leadership and wellness at Wrkit. “Some communication methods that have resulted in a greater uptake of benefits include dedicated intranet boards and HR teams joining internal meetings each month to discuss benefits offerings.”

Communication priorities

In the world of hybrid working, mobile is seen as the most effective communication method for reaching employees, with push notifications via apps able to deliver the right message at the right time. Certain benefits, for example, health and wellbeing, have become more important during the pandemic, and therefore communicating them is a priority.

“There has been a rise in online GPs, which have been very popular during the pandemic along with benefits such as counselling and wellbeing,” says Jason Green, head of workplace research at Benefits Guru.

Other benefits, such as group risk, health and protection benefits, have always been difficult to communicate. “Often these benefits are presented when joining an organisation, but require little or no member interaction afterwards,” adds Green. “As a result, when they are required, the employees are not aware, or have forgotten that they have the benefits in place.”

Communication is also more effective when it reveals the value of the benefits through the personal accounts of real people. This can be achieved by sharing stories of benefits success and what is working well and genuinely helping, says Brennan.

“For example, it could be someone who has secured a bargain or reached a fitness goal using lifestyle perks, or gained a new skill through a learning module,” he says. “To gather these and real-life stories, HR teams should encourage discussions among staff about how they are using benefits daily and weekly, or circulate surveys for employees to feedback on the various benefits on offer.”

Technology investment

Technology has been vital to bridging the gap between home and office, and will continue to be as more and more organisations adopt hybrid working models. Employers that haven’t invested time and effort in their technology may find themselves left behind.

John Deacon, head of employee benefits at Buck, says: “The right technology has the potential to make communications more accessible and engaging, for example by making messages more personalised and visual, and easily understandable through the use of dashboards and connected platforms. However, communications and benefits tech is, however, just one piece of the puzzle. Fundamentally firms need to have a clear and well-thought-out strategy in place that reflects the needs of their staff and any communications or benefits must be tailored to the needs of different employees.”