Those of us who specialise in reward are a passionate lot – no really. Let’s face it; it isn’t the most glamorous of HR’s disciplines so we really must believe in its power to engage.
Despite this, we often talk with disappointed HR Directors. Disappointed: that not everyone ‘gets it’, by take up rates of benefits and by lack of understanding of plans and programmes.
Many times all of the building blocks are there. The pay foundations for clear and transparent reward are in place. Reward strategy is aligned to the business and the programmes link nicely to the employee population and company purpose.
So why aren’t employees enthused?
Well, I heard Matt Charlton of the ad agency Brothers and Sisters give a fascinating statistic recently. £18bn pa is spent on advertising but only 4% is positively remembered and 89% isn’t noticed at all.
Against that, our simple, accessible reward communications designed to help employees make logical decisions aren’t going to cut the mustard.
We need to recognise that employees are always ‘off’. They are not in a place to be receptive to our communications and they are sceptical.
Because increased technology and social media create noise. Trust in the ‘establishment’ has imploded: 9/11, the financial crisis and WMD to name a few. And the accessibility of information means that traditional channels are secondary.
Belief in the ‘traditional establishment’ has diminished and as a result a new personal establishment has developed. This means that we interact with others but don’t trust them for example being sceptical of ‘news’ on the internet in case it is fake or wary of politicians in case of U turns. As a result we turn to family and friends to influence our decisions.
Although links to employers aren’t what they used to be, employers are afforded some trust. But there’s no room for complacency.
Successful communications need to penetrate an employee’s personal establishment.
They need to be simple and creative to cut through the noise. They need to engage in a way that generates conversation and debate with family, friends and colleagues.
At their best, communications are personal, useful and entertaining:
- Timely – pick one message to push at the right time for each population
- Attractive – show what’s in it for them
- Social – ‘everybody’s doing it’
- Make sure what’s important stands out
- Easy to action
- Simple, concise and jargon free
- Images, video’s and social media
- Experiences – try before you buy benefits fayres
- Employee stories
Communications that create a buzz will help employees feel emotionally connected to pay and reward programmes. They’ll be comfortable to discuss them with family and friends and enthused to make positive decisions. This will build trust, aid understanding of the wider deal and enhance engagement.
Photo by Liji Jinaraj