How to set the right reward communication strategy
It is a well know reality that majority of the organizations are trying to cope up with the projected shortage of skilled employees in the recent years. To attract the right skilled employee, organizations have no choice but to adapt to new measures, especially when it comes to creating compensation and benefits programs for filling up hot jobs. And many times this leads to soaring salary cum benefit costs for employers too. It is found that organizations on an average are spending approximately 20-30% of the fixed pay of an employee as additional costs in the form of several benefits including rewards. The demand in robust compensation and benefits packages by the millennials is paving the way for the entire workforce to view such benefits to be a crucial part of their retention too.
However, employees are still continuing to consider the amount on their pay slip as the entire value proposition of their employment. Hence, there seems a chasm when it comes to reaping the benefits of such rewards programs. And this has brought the focus on building effective ‘rewards communication’ that has gained impetus to the extent that organizations are employing specialists in the field of communication to increase the penetration of the messages across the firm. However, one can try doing it internally too by embracing these 5 foundational steps that can in turn help to enable and create a better reward communication strategy.
- Owing to differences in employee life stages and their mental frames, it is difficult to communicate reward programs together at one go in a meaningful way. Hence, the first stage is to segment employees when it comes to weaving your communication strategy. Deliver targeted messages that help employees connect with their own segment.This will help organizations to utilize rewards communications to drive greater satisfaction across different levels of employees.
The second angle to this segmentation is directed towards that strata of employees who are the owners and drivers of such change – the middle level managers. Taking them along with significant amount of collaboration and transparency is a prerequisite before implementing such initiatives. This enhances higher adoption rate of any reward program. There is a deep need for rewards professionals to understand these changes in employee segments and to listen to them in order to better align their reward communication strategy.
- As a second step, make the information simple and digestible. For instance, there are sometimes technical and complex terms used like DC/ DB plans (Defined contribution and defined benefits), TPD (total permanent disability) and many others with high density of information and confusing choices. This results in chances of employees to get lost while figuring out what to choose and how to appreciate the benefit and rewards that their employers had selected for them. And hence, such complexity in itself can create a negative perception about the reward program. Therefore, create the communication module and its transmission easy to digest and simple to comprehend.
- Choosing the right communication media is highly crucial. Many employers choose to thrive on just the HRIS or company’s Intranet when it comes to communicating their reward programs from time to time. In their busy schedule, employees will seldom opt to visit the platform until there is some pressing need. The reward programs need to be communicated by integrating engagement, transparency and creative technique for full participation that actually ends up in achieving the mission of retention. Organizations will also need to decide how creative they want their communication campaign to look. In fact, social rewards have emerged as a key driver of engagement. Recognition platforms highlighting good performance and excellence in business delivery are widely prevalent and gaining more acceptance now than before. Such medium helps in engaging the millennials as well.
- The fourth step is to create a tactical activation plan that is more real time and continuous and not just open during enrollments. Activation never happens on the first message. The communication plan will need to fit in with the right mix to activate employees continuously. One of the biggest changes in communication is the way one can involve people. Create a conversation and embrace a real dialogue with employees on what they really need and value the most. Allow them to collaborate and involve them in your communication plan across hierarchy.
- And the most important step in today’s age is to leverage available data and technology to hyper-personalize rewards for employees at large. There is a need for rewards professionals to understand the changes and integrate analytics and technology to drive an effective communication strategy based on evidence based patterns. The future of rewards is therefore not limited to doing better what organizations have always done, but rather to think outside-the-box. Also, measure all your communication strategy so that you can see what’s effective and what is not working. Use insights gained throughout your measurement and reporting activities to refine your methods and achieve the desired result.
To summarize, while employers give their best to get the right reward program to drive engagement and retain best talent, but majority of the time there’s an unconscious slip while creating a strong communication program alongside. The primary focus for rewards communications across organizations is to educate the employees on the benefits that are available to them and more importantly, to drive utilization of the same. Organizations have realized that transparency in communication is critical to improve the employee’s understanding and satisfaction with the rewards. And to top it up, early investment in technology and analytics would help organizations walk the extra mile in their mission to acquire, engage and retain their talent workforce.
Know more about employee wellness at the upcoming People Matters Total Rewards & Wellness Conclave 2019 on 16th January 2019 in New Delhi. Register here.