Information overload is a feature of modern life, which means that employers have their work cut out when it comes to communicating their organisation’s benefits package to employees.
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- Quirky communications strategies can help engage staff with their workplace benefits.
- Strategies could include quirky campaign themes, staff champions and even traditional handwritten letters.
- Employers should ensure that their communications methods are appropriate for their workforce.
But this is not deterring them from doing so, with more than half (67%) of organisations having planned to increase communications to boost staff understanding of their benefits in the next year, according to Employee Benefits’ The Benefits research 2014, published in May 2014.
And many organisations have devised quirky methods and messages for doing so along the way.
For example, E.On devised quirky campaign themes to engage staff in its benefits and to maximise take-up in its pension scheme uptake ahead of its auto-enrolment staging date on 1 April 2013, to coincide with its flexible benefits annual enrolment window.
Themes for the energy provider’s pioneering pensions and benefits education campaign included ‘Don’t gamble with your future’, which began with a pensions scratch card and an online game called ‘Who wants to be comfortably retired?’, which offered employees the chance to win £1,000 in a prize draw.
The employer also used a ‘You’re in the driving seat’ theme to illustrate tax disc inserts, which went into employees’ pay slips explaining its benefits, as well as car air fresheners.
Ant Donaldson, reward and benefits manager at E.On, which won Best benefits communications – large employer at the Employee Benefits Awards 2014, says: “We really tried to make communications engaging and fun.”
Fellow employer Danone created a garden theme for its ‘A great place to grow’ employee communications campaign in 2014. The campaign, which won the fresh dairy organisation the ‘Most engaging benefits package’ at The Employee Benefits Awards 2014, was used for games to enhance employees’ understanding of, and engagement with, Danone’s benefits.
‘Norman the gnome’ was the star of the campaign branding, and gnomes were delivered to each area of the business, significantly increasing employee engagement scores and employee perceptions of their benefits.
But Samsung took an alternative approach to communicating with staff about its workplace pension scheme by tasking its benefits champions to target ‘at-risk’ staff, such as those who had opted out of the pension scheme post auto-enrolment.
Joanna Bean, head of reward, UK and Ireland, at Samsung, which won the ‘Best pensions communications – small employer’ award at The Employee Benefits Awards 2014, says: “We put a lot of emphasis on educating staff. We wanted to get as many staff to opt in [to the pensions scheme] as possible.”
Use existing channels
Cheryl Clements, business development manager at salary sacrifice car scheme provider Tusker, advises employers to use existing workplace channels, such as canteen cups, napkins, mugs, posters on the back of toilet doors and stickers placed over payslips encouraging employees to register with their benefits portal, through which to communicate their benefits.
She says: “There is no point [employers] reinventing the wheel.”
But Iain McMath, chief executive officer at Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, believes in communicating through celebrations, such as staff parties.
“What better way to make employees aware of changes to benefits than launching with a bang?” he says. “Employers can get their whole workforce involved, create an opportunity for the incoming scheme to be discussed and get employees interested in new benefits.”
But employers should not overlook more traditional communication methods for their strategies.
Andrew Johnson, director-general of the UK Gift Card and Voucher Association, says: “Handwritten letters or putting a card on staff desks can still stand out more than the quirkier methods.”
“Finding the right method for the right person can be the biggest motivator,” he adds.