Adam Sorensen at WorldatWork: Effective, accurate communication is the key

Like the design of total reward itself, a total reward communication strategy should be driven by the corporate mission, supported by the business strategy, and guided by the HR strategy. If an employer’s total reward strategy or communications are inconsistent with its business objectives or do not reflect its business results, they will not drive the type of behaviours needed for long-term success.

For example, if a key business objective is to improve profitability by linking pay with company performance, incentive programmes and communications should aim to reinforce the relationship between reward and organisational performance.

When developing a communication strategy, think about ways to create a line of sight between business results and individual behaviour. Employers must be specific about how staff can contribute to the organisation’s success and how those successes are reflected in their reward.

Employers must also understand their audience and adjust their messages to be relevant and specific to particular needs and concerns. Practitioners should tailor their total reward messages for different groups, especially when operating across borders or cultures. Conditions on the ground may vary in different locations, and these should be taken into account when developing communication plans. Similarly, it is important to be sensitive to how cultural differences and expectations may affect how messages are received. For example, many organisations develop a few key messages that are consistent across the business but then adjust the timing, delivery method and tone of the messages to meet the communication preferences of individuals in different parts of the world.

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Nothing undermines morale more quickly than rumours, or incomplete or inaccurate information. Communicating a total reward concept at a time when organisations are making involuntary workforce cuts could enhance the survivor syndrome, for instance the guilt often felt by those left behind.

Good communication is a powerful tool, but it can’t do everything. Even the best communication can’t compensate for a bad business strategy. It can’t cover up badly-designed programmes or create staff loyalty in a distrustful environment. But welldesigned, well-executed communication can help organisations and individuals become more effective in these challenging times.