Employee communications: Effectively promoting your employee benefits to your staff

You’ve told your employees about your benefits programme, but they’re just not signing up. Sound familiar? We’re here to help. Read this blog, and then download and print our useful 12 month communications calendar, perfect for 2016.

Are you struggling to get more staff to take advantage of your employee benefits programme? It may seem like a big task, but with a little forward planning and effective communication, getting higher scheme uptake is well within reach.

We all love a good story

One of the most important things to remember when promoting employee benefits to your staff is to do so in a compelling way.

Let’s suppose you offer a technology scheme that gives your employees access to discounts on TVs, tablets and mobile phones. Are they aware of the specific makes and models they could get their hands on? Do they know exactly how much money they could save? If the offer is only available for a certain amount of time, are all employees aware of the deadline? These are by no means the only questions you should be asking yourself, but they’re a good starting point when you try to create an emotional connection with your reader.

Another really effective way of promoting employee benefits is to include a quote from a staff member who has used the scheme. A couple of lines from a team member saying how much she’s benefited since she joined will make your message far more relatable. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could try getting the message across with a video – hearing (and seeing) something first-hand will always trump a regurgitated sound bite.

Cast the net too wide, and valuable fish will slip through

Someone wise said that once, probably… Anyway, it’s common knowledge that targeting your communications and choosing the right channel is really important, but it doesn’t always happen with internal communications. We know time is a big factor in this, so why not start simple by splitting your audience into age brackets? If most of your staff are millennials and Generation Z, you might want to try telling them about your employee benefits via digital and social channels. If you have a company intranet, a social networking tool (click to see some examples), TV screens and email*, then go with these first.

Workforce made up mostly of Generation X? Traditional methods like brochures, roadshows and face-to-face communication will likely yield the best results.

As well as age, you will have to consider other demographic criteria such as whether your business operates over one or multiple sites, and whether your staff spend their time in the office, factory, shop, van. You might also want to consider eligibility criteria – telling your whole company about a benefit that is only available to certain pay grades, locations or business units is likely to do more harm than good.

Can't tell your millennials from your Generation X? Take a look at this handy infographic.


Strike while the iron is heating up (and again once it’s hot)

So, now you know which sets of employees you’d like to contact, and how you’re going to contact them, it’s time to think about when to contact them. You’ve heard it before, but there’s no substitute for planning.

Let’s suppose that among other benefits you offer a discounted gym membership, and a tax-free bike scheme. You could send an email to all eligible employees telling them about the offers, how much they could save and how to sign up. While strictly speaking there’s nothing wrong with this approach, taking seasonality into account will probably pack more of a punch.

For example, you could try promoting the gym membership in January, telling your employees you can help them burn off the calories they gained over Christmas. Then, once the clocks have gone forward and the nights are lighter, you could promote the tax-free bike scheme.

Something else to bear in mind at this point would be whether or not there are any other internal communications due to go out at the same time as your own. If your email goes out five minutes after another internal comm, there will be an office-wide groan, and people will ignore it. Check with other departments, or your internal comms team, if you have one.

Opening the windows of opportunity

The timing of your promotions is of particular importance if you only offer certain benefits during certain times of the year. If, for example, there are some offers that are only available during the month of March, you should aim to send communications in February before the window opens; at the start of March as it opens, midway through the month, and prior to the window closing. Frequent reminders about an important, time-sensitive offer are very likely to get people signing up.

For an example of a ‘best-practice’ 12-month promotions calendar from Salary Extras, click here.

*A note on email:

You’ll probably be using email for everyone, so do them all a favour by making them as easy to read as you can – it’ll make a big difference. Aim for as close to a 60/40 ratio between text and images as you can: try using infographics, illustrated process diagrams (rather than everyone’s favourite ‘How does it work?’ bullet point list) and product pictures to bring it all to life. If you want someone to take action, put it in a clickable button so it stands out.