The days of sending a single message to your employees, all in one go, are long gone. We all now expect information to be available to us immediately, and speak directly to our personal needs.
This might sound like a daunting prospect, but understanding where your employees are on their work life journey will enable you to send the most relevant message when it matters the most.
Making use of two concepts – both of which are based on the idea that timing is key – opens up a way of communicating with employees that we know delivers great results:
- Know how to segment your workforce
- Use time-sensitive trigger points
1. How to segment your workforce
Having conducted thousands of individual meetings with employees to discuss their benefits, I’ve found that one of the simplest ways of segmenting your workforce is by age. A 21 year old living with their parents will not have the same responsibilities or interests as a 41 year old with a mortgage supporting a young family. This will affect what kind of message they relate to. By communicating to your people based on their age demographic, you can send a message that’s relevant to their situation.
Naturally, there are other demographics in your workforce that you can use for segmentation (e.g. income, location, job role, length of time with the business etc), but let me give you an insight into how I use these age segments when I’m delivering communications to employees.
Here’s an example of a framework I used in some recent pension presentations:
18-29 year olds
These employees will be looking to you for information and guidance to start building their pension pot. At this stage in their working lives, the communication focus should be on encouraging employees to contribute little and often, and not to put off paying into their to their pension pot until later.
3 key messages to deliver:
- Contributing little and often
- Making use of salary exchange
- The benefits of compound interest
30-49 year olds
This demographic will typically be midway through their working life: they are comfortable with pensions, already saving and are looking at how to build for their future. You should be encouraging them to think about their investment strategy, the importance of still contributing and educating them on the fund choices available.
3 key messages to deliver:
- Reviewing where you’re invested
- Maximising tax relief
- Consolidating your pension
50+ year olds
This group of employees will be looking for information on retirement support, budgeting and the options available to them. At this stage employees may also need further support with financial stress in the run up to retirement.
3 key messages to deliver:
- Having a 10 year retirement plan in place
- The benefits of selecting the right retirement option for you
- De-risking your portfolio
Using a plan similar to the one above will allow you to establish specific and relevant messages that you want to send out. Once you’ve done this, you’ll then need to find the right time to send your messages out. Learning how to use trigger points will give you time sensitive opportunities to grab your employees’ attention and then direct them towards the support that they need.
2. Use triggers to send your communications
Segmentation provides you with the broad message for demographic groups, but trigger points can pinpoint an individual employee with perfect timing.
Using trigger points in your employees’ life cycles allows you to deliver individually targeted communications when they are most relevant to them. Direct calls to action give your employees a gentle nudge in the right direction, and show them you understand that they’re individuals.
Technology will form a key role in triggering your communications. You may look to develop an automated system internally to cope with this, or you might want to find an external company to help you.
There are a whole host of triggers that you can use for each benefit you offer. Here are a few ideas:
- Birthdays: Not only is it great to wish employees a Happy Birthday, but you could use their birthday, especially a landmark one, as a chance to prompt an employee to look at their pension pot. Is what they’re paying into their pension still aligned with their expectations at retirement?
- Promotions: With promotions often come extra responsibilities and remuneration. A promotion is a cause to celebrate, but you might want to remind employees that your Employee Assistance Programme is always there for them if they’re feeling the pressure mounting and need a little extra support.
- Pension scheme anniversaries: At regular intervals (e.g. 1, 5, 10 years) it’s always worth taking the time to review how your pension is performing and whether you’re still on track with your longer term plan.
- Pension fund size: Using fund size as a trigger is something everyone should think about (e.g. ‘your pension fund is now £100,000’, now’s a great time to check you’re still on track.)
- Workplace anniversaries: This could be a chance to reward employees for dedicated service with a message such as: “you have been with the company for 5 years. Did you know that you now get an extra 5 days of annual leave?” Remember, it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference.
- Life events: New parents may be unaware that they can add their child to any of your protection policies, what better time to tell them? Some providers even give members £100 for each child born.
Every business is different, so use the above list of triggers as a starting point, but think carefully about which triggers might work best for you.
It’s often too easy to overlook the importance of getting your employees engaged with their employee benefits. If they don’t understand what’s available to them, then engagement and value will be low, resulting in a poor return on your company’s investment.
Changing people’s mentalities towards retirement, protection or wellbeing products will always be tough, but as an employer, it’s possible to plan your communications smartly and show them how useful their benefits are.
Take some steps today to re-evaluate your communication strategy for 2018!