Top five ways to create an engaging total reward statement

It can be very easy for employees to fail to attribute a fair value to all elements of their benefits package, and too often employers find that staff have a lack of appreciation or understanding of the benefits they provide.

Design statements

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  • Employers should choose a suitable method of accessibility of total reward statement (TRS) to engage employees.
  • Personalised content can help make a TRS engaging.
  • Line managers can help communicate details in the statement.

Employers can use total reward statements (TRSs) as a way of helping employees gain an insight into the full value of their reward package. And there are some top ways in which to gain maximum interest from staff.

1) Create an engaging design

A key starting point is to assess the design of the statement. A spreadsheet detailing the financial values of benefits could fail to engage staff with the purpose of a TRS, so employers could use illustrations to depict car schemes and pension pots or use pie charts and graphs to help bring statements to life.

Steve Mason, business development director at Personal Group, says: “Try and illustrate as much as possible rather than have lots of financial information to highlight how employee reward is made up. Employers could use a pie chart to illustrate what part of their reward package makes up pension contributions and share scheme contributions. Things like this can be powerful to view.”

2) Optimise accessibility to TRS

TRS can be online or paper based, but the most appropriate method will depend on the size, nature and demographics of a workforce, as well as employers’ available budget. While online is typically most popular, benefits providers have noted that some employers have recently moved back to paper statements.

Employers need to consider how staff will be able to access online statements; an obvious choice is to add a TRS to an online hub such as a flexible benefits portal. By doing this, employers can also offer real-time information and updates to statements to help keep staff constantly engaged with the value of their benefits package.

Mark Carmen, director of communication services at Edenred, says: “In an ideal world, for employers to create engagement they should do both online and offline. But [they] could also use a benefits management tool to produce up-to-date information whenever there has been an adjustment made to an employee’s package. They can use this to remind employees, to get them looking at it, and if it sits online they could interact and engage with their benefits as a result.”

3) Include captivating content

While the design of a TRS should be as creative as possible, the content is just as important in driving engagement among employees. While it may seem obvious to detail financial benefits, forward-thinking employers, such as News UK and John Lewis Partnership, include benefits that do not have a monetary value such as learning and development opportunities or free car parking.

Richard McKinley-Price, head of benefits management at Jelf Employee Benefits, says: “It is important not just to focus on the financial rewards for employees but also those that are non-financial to make it more about the employee value proposition of the organisation.”

However, Personal Group’s Mason says content should be personalised. “A statement will be more engaging if information is personal to an employee and they are reading a statement that includes benefits that they actually receive,” he says. “They would not want share scheme information if they are not in it.”

4) Consider the timing of delivery

Most total reward statements occur annually and at the time of pay reviews, salary increases or the start of an organisation’s financial year. Yet with the technology available to produce statements in real time, employers could think about moving away from a traditional annual statement to make it more ad hoc for a particular purpose. 

Matthew Gregson, consulting director at Thomsons Online Benefits, says: “To make it engaging, it needs to come away from being an annual statement. It should be frequent and it needs to be ad hoc to time it when an employee has made a new benefits selection or received an award. Total reward statements need to become more of a concept rather than just a thing that happens once a year.”

5) Communicate the news

As well as sending out emails and putting up posters to let employees know a TRS is coming, line managers could also play a role in boosting engagement by communicating and going through statements with employees during one-to-ones and development meetings.

Edenred’s Carmen says: “Managers need to take time to sit down and hand over statements or go through it with them online to help with that initial engagement. Have managers discuss face to face to play back what the organisation has done to help create greater understanding and value of the benefits package.”