How to engage staff with a total reward offering

total reward offering
  • To engage employees with a reward package, it needs to be clearly communicated, easy to understand and impactful in order to show its true value.
  • The increasing use of personal devices to access benefits means that digital methods are often more effective.
  • Factoring reward package reviews into formal milestones, such as six-month reviews or probation periods, can improve engagement and employees’ awareness of what is on offer.

A study by iCompario published in October 2022 found that 26% of British workers are dissatisfied with their workplace benefits, with those based in Belfast (36%), Liverpool (31%) and Newcastle (31%) most likely to be dissatisfied.

So can a total reward proposition help to improve employees’ engagement with their perks?

Presenting a total reward package

When presenting employees with a total reward package, this needs to be clear, easy to understand, impactful, visual, interactive and all-encompassing to show them its true value. This is the case for both existing and prospective employees, who will want to know about an organisation’s employee value proposition to understand what it is like to work for it and what is on offer.

A picture paints a thousand words, and this is true with total reward, says Sarah Robson, senior strategic consultant at Aon. Visual communications, therefore, are best for impact. “Annual total reward statements can also be shown with a video and are hyper-personalised with reward data,” she says. “It’s also ideal to present statements on an app or platform so they can be accessed by employees at any time. If this is interactive, people can learn by clicking and exploring the components that it is made up of.”

Total reward packages can be difficult for employees to digest if they are not clearly explained. Employers may want to consider outlining each benefit for employees, including how they access it and any commitments they must make if they choose it. Using testimonials and gathering data to show the impact of certain benefits can help to show their true impact.

If a package seems inaccessible or difficult to use, then take up can be low, says Christina Melling, co-founder and chief executive officer of Stipendium. “If this is the case, employee benefit platforms and reward can become a redundant cost to the business and it not getting the full value of what is on offer,” she says. “It’s important for employers to ensure that reward packages are as accessible as possible.”

Benefits packages can also greatly influence an employee’s decision to stay or leave an organisation, so how these are presented is key to ensuring staff truly understand their extent and value.

Dividing a package into distinct categories will make the benefits easier for employees to understand, as well as helping to identify any gaps, says Dan Mills, partner at Lemonade Reward. “Some [employers] choose to split their reward [package] up into five categories of compensation, benefits, work-life, performance and recognition, and employee development,” he explains  “However, [an employer] can define or choose whatever categories work best for [], [it, its business] and [its] employees.”

Staying on trend with current issues

A total reward offering will typically include salary, bonuses, pensions, healthcare and wellbeing initiatives, additional holidays, flexible working policies, career prospects and training funds, all packaged in one proposition.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues, showing the true value of each element can be reassuring for employees, particularly if not all employers are issuing pay rises in line with inflation.

In addition to offering financial education workshops and tools to help employees navigate their finances better, employers can also help by relaying the benefits of reward packages in financial terms, says Melling. “Employers can highlight how much childcare vouchers save employees on average or how much [employees] can save on household items by using the discounts and deals they provide. Financial pressures put a huge strain on employees’ mental health and productivity, so a total reward package isn’t really complete unless it caters to financial health as well.”

Communication methods

Ensuring that employees fully understand the extent of their reward package and how it helps them could be the difference between them remaining in their role or going elsewhere.

It is crucial that benefits are properly communicated throughout the employee’s journey at the organisation to boost employee morale and retainability, says Melling. Employers should, therefore, ensure full details of packages are factored into recruitment marketing, highlighting the real-time savings and value staff can access.

“Sharing case studies of how employees have used [benefits] on social media is a great, natural way to showcase the people within the business, but also how it supports individuals with different needs through the reward package available,” she says. “Similarly, these personal case studies can also be good for internal communications and can be tied to other important employee milestones such as work anniversaries or birthdays.”

Communicating a package is not just about presenting employees with its value, but can also be an opportunity to remind them about what makes their organisation great.

Organisations can communicate messages from their senior leadership team and use it as an opportunity to promote key areas of focus such as wellbeing, says Sarah McDonough, organisation insights expert and employee experience leader, UK and Ireland at Willis Towers Watson. “Employers can take their ongoing messaging to the next level by building a year-round communication calendar focused on total reward,” she explains. “A communications calendar should consider how to support different audiences, such as people managers, with talking points and toolkits as well as ongoing reminders about key total reward offerings.”

The increasing use of personal devices to access benefits means that digital methods are often more effective. Organisations should adopt a modern, digital and employee-focused approach to communications to effectively raise awareness of and increase benefits programme utilisation.

Mills agrees and recommends using video, personalised statements, as well as having a member of senior leadership or the reward team talk about the total reward package. “Communication of compensation to employees should be one of an employer’s top priorities,” he says. “It’s an essential part of any successful total reward programme. Furthermore, it ensures that [the] organisation receives the most value for its compensation and benefits investments.

Engagement techniques

Regular surveys can also help to gauge the thoughts of a workforce, to tailor the reward offering accordingly to improve engagement.

Interactive online total reward statements, where employees can click on areas to learn more about that part of the package, will also help with engagement, says Robson. “A pre-teaser campaign along with an invitation to view the total reward statement also helps create awareness every year,” she says.

Factoring reward package reviews into formal milestones, such as six-month reviews, the end of probationary periods or appraisals, can improve engagement and employees’ awareness of what is on offer.

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This is also an opportunity to check what is still valuable to the employee and can help employers understand where there may be gaps in their offering, says Melling. Workshops focused on what the benefits cater to can also help. “For example, if you offer subscriptions to financial management tools to help employees get a better hold of their finances, then hosting workshops with financial experts around important issues employees face can also reinforce take up.”

Engaging employees with their total reward offering can be a challenge, but communicating what is available in a clear and interesting way, while also regularly checking in with them to find out what they want is a good place to start.