“Treat the internal branding of your employee benefits package the same way your firm would launch an external marketing campaign.”
Even without extensive resources, organizations can create communications that help employees realize the full value of their benefits — breaking the cycle of endless tweaking by HR to gain a few more points of employee satisfaction.
Across Asia, employers are under constant pressure to make their employee benefits programs more innovative, effective, cost-efficient and sustainable. However, the challenge is not just to improve on these parameters but also to differentiate the program. Eighty percent of organizations state that they are driven to differentiate their benefits package in order to attract prospective talent and retain high-potential individuals. As a result, organizations spend considerable time and money structuring highly competitive programs and retaining vendors with best-in-class technology and customer service.
However, no matter how competitive, innovative and unique the benefits program is (and no matter how many times this is validated by external studies and independent consultants), too often, programs fail to engage employees. HR is then stuck in an endless cycle of searching for something new to introduce or change.
The key to breaking out of this cycle is not to keep introducing shiny new tools in the hope that “this one” will finally satisfy your audience, but to execute an effective communication and branding strategy. Why not treat the internal branding of your employee benefits package the same way your firm would launch an external marketing campaign? The goal of such a campaign is to convince the end user that your product/service is the best available option, with the ultimate goal of gaining a loyal, repeat customer. The same logic should be applied to the branding and communication of your benefits program. What’s more, this internal campaign can be simple and low-cost.
Understanding Your Audience: Where to Start
With nearly one in five companies reporting that they don’t communicate their benefits to employees at all, the opportunity to improve is huge.
Where should you start when devising a benefits communication and branding strategy?
• Focus on your audience: Spend some time thinking about who will be at the receiving end of your communications material — who makes up your workforce? How old are they? Are they male or female? Which life stage are they in? (Are they single, married, have young families?) Or are they getting ready for retirement? Where are they located? (Are they offsite, do they travel often, do they work remotely?) What language do they speak and what is their work schedule? For example, when it comes to employee benefits programs, one segment of your workforce may value work-life balance and corporate discount programs, whereas another may be more interested in learning about retirement and financial planning tools. These various groups may also prefer different communication styles and channels — email versus a print flyer versus being pinged by an iPhone app. All these variables should be taken into account when structuring a targeted communication strategy.
• Identify your internal resources: Feeling overwhelmed? The good news is that even lean HR teams can create an effective employee communications program. Many organizations have internal communications and/or marketing functions that may be ready to lend a helping hand. A simple example would be to use your organization’s corporate branding guidelines as the foundation upon which to build your benefits communications. Although they may be restrictive, communication standards can also provide guidance and should be considered. Remember that branding should go beyond a nice logo and a slogan — it should evoke the feeling that you want employees to have when they engage with their benefits experience. This insight is the most valuable aspect of effective communications, and it doesn’t cost anything.
• Get the lay of the land: Carry out an internal audit of all communications collateral already in place. What materials are available to employees (briefing decks, employee handbooks, posters, etc.), and where are they located? Are they easily accessible? Do you have data that show how effective the communication has been? What communication channels are you already using, and what other platforms may be available (intranet, TVs in your break area, online survey tools or even your CEO blog)? You’ll likely be surprised by how much you already have at your disposal to bolster your communications.
1 Mercer. Benefits Under the Lens, 2016.