This week PerkSpot joined a panel discussion along with fellow HR experts hosted by the Illinois Technology Association. While the panel largely focused on employee perks, a natural side effect of the conversation revolved around communication.
HR professionals are in the business of people. And we all know nothing is more valuable in relationships than communication. You can have the best mission statement in the world, but if none of your employees know it… how valuable is it? What about that new perk you decided to roll out that no one is using? Why pay money for perks and benefits if no one is going to use it?
As you strive to promote culture in your organization, here are a few ways to develop a strong internal communications strategy:
Before you can communicate well, you have to understand your audience and their expectations. Generational differences are among some of the great challenges organizations face in communicating effectively.
When you develop your plan, ask these questions first:
- What generation am I targeting with this message? Millennials, Baby Boomers, A combination? Consider gender, socioeconomic status, and any other factors that may come into play.
- How does this audience prefer to receive information? Through technology or with a face-to-face meeting?
- What does the audience already know about this offering? Have they requested this particular perk or is it totally new to them?
In the modern-day workplace everyone is a communicator. Whether that’s at the water cooler or in a formal conference room, the fact of the matter is that employees talk. While we can’t always ensure everything employees have to say is in favor of the company, we can play a role in how we disseminate the information in the first place.
One interesting perspective at the panel discussion came from the moderator, Laurence Marx, CEO and Co-founder of EmphasisHR, who likened a specific perk to Apple’s iPhone. So much of what made the iPhone such a phenomenon was the branding and marketing strategy they used to communicate all its added benefits. As we seek to circulate information among our companies, we can also recruit our marketing staff to help us package the perk in such a way that engages employees and provides a natural way for them to talk about it. As Marx stated on the panel, “put it in a cool wrapper”. Make your messaging as unique as the perk you’re offering.
Another issue arose as we talked around this idea of communications and HR. What do we do when we need to make a change to our current offering? For example, let’s say you’re developing a new benefits plan and you need to communicate the changes to your employees. Your goal is to make the information as clear as possible, while also addressing any concerns they may have with this new change. You should outline the new plan and how it aligns with your company’s overall goals. For example, maybe this new benefits plan offers a discount on gym memberships, which aligns your company’s wellness values as a whole.
Maybe you’re rolling out a new perk that employees have been requesting for a while, but you’re unsure of how effective this will be or how long it will be possible to sustain. Try setting the expectation ahead of time that this perk might not be permanent. “We’re trying this out for a year…” By communicating with honesty and transparency, you’re less likely to deal with disgruntledness down the line.
There are so many companies out there offering amazing incentives for their employees. In fact, some of these have been providing perks for over 10+ years. This brings us to our final question – How do we incentivize employees who are used to all the perks that their company has to offer?
This again goes back to the idea of your packaging. Make sure you’re not communicating with the same flier today that you were using in 1997. Find new ways to package the information to make sure it reaches employees in the right place and time.
Still not seeing results? Remember that all perks are not created equal. Evaluate your offerings to make sure they’re still relevant. Another great idea came from Margaret Hermes, Senior Manager of Benefits at Groupon who shared with the room that they’ve created Employee Resource Groups specifically focused on different demographics. They use these groups to gather information and make sure everyone’s voice is heard and valued.
In a recent survey, 36% of employees said they would give up $5,000 a year in salary to be happier at work. By using these insights to develop a strong, clear communications strategy around our perks, we can increase employee happiness and in turn see a significant increase in ROI.