How to Create an Authentic Employee Recognition Program

How to Create an Authentic Employee Recognition Program

Do you have an employee recognition program? If so, you’re in good company. According to a recent Society of Human Resource Management/Globoforce study of 738 human resources professionals, 80 percent of organizations do as well. Fifty-six percent said their program has a positive impact on recruitment and 68 percent praised its value for retention.

With those benefits in mind, it makes sense to promote your employee recognition program internally. After all, employees want to be praised. Praise yields higher productivity, innovation, and job satisfaction. A study by Cicero found recognition to be the most important driver of employee performance. At 37 percent it ranked higher than increased pay or promotions.

As with many programs, communications is the key for success. Messaging should be clear. It’s important to make sure key stakeholders are on board from the start. Doing so shows high-performers that you’re paying attention. It also engages and informs your staff around the idea that employees are valued for their contributions.

Here are five ideas on how you can communicate the value of work well done.

1. Create a Brand for your Employee Recognition Program

Branding your program adds credibility. Employees are more likely to view content branded from the company versus content branded from your carriers, says a study from Prudential. The brand of your employee recognition program should connect staff with what you need them to think, feel and do have a successful program. Once your brand is in place and recognizable, your employee will want to be a part of the program.

A brand is a look and feel that is unique to your company. It could be as simple as a catchy tag line or a logo that connects employees with the vision and values of your employee recognition program. Incorporate the brand in emails, posters, publications, postcards, employee handbook, company branded website, videos, webinars, intranet, etc. Communicate about the employee recognition program often. Repetition is the key to retention.

2. Publicize your Employee Recognition Program

Make it easy for people to get involved or apply to the employee recognition program. Help them to understand what’s required to earn recognition and how they can be successful. Highlight examples of past high achievers and invite employees to share their stories.

Announce employee recognition activities in team meetings. Keep communications consistent and as frequent as possible. This will keep the program front and center for all employees.

3. Provide Tangible Rewards

Inspire managers to personally recognize employees for their efforts. Employees often keep personalized company-branded plaques and certificates on their desks or walls. Those materials may inspire their co-workers.

Your employee recognition program may include monetary rewards, like cash or gift cards. Other rewards include extra time off, tickets to sporting events, accessories like watches or new electronics like headphones or tablets.

Pair all rewards with thank you notes. Research out of Harvard Business School found authentic thank you’s from leaders motivate employees. 180 employees watched short videos that personally thanked them for contributions. Compared to a control group that didn’t watch videos, those employees had a 7 percent increase in performance.

4. Showcase Success Stories

Employees love to read about their colleagues – and to be inspired by them. That’s why it’s great to showcase those high-performers who make a difference. Feature them in organizational publications, on intranets, and other media as appropriate.

Schedule a specific day each month to launch and broadcast these communications. Create social gatherings to promote your employee recognition program. For example, every third Wednesday is employee recognition day.  Your company can provide snacks in a common area. The tangible rewards, mentioned above, can be distributed in front of colleagues. Seeing their peers lauded may encourage other workers to put forth extra effort.

5. Get Leadership Sponsorship

Employees like the continued support of upper management. Yet, a Gallup poll of over 30,000 workers showed only one-third received praise for a job well done over the past week.

Have leaders promote your employee recognition program so employees know management is on board. This helps the employees understand that the company is invested in their growth and recognizes their contributions.

Make sure your employee recognition program is honest, authentic and aligns with your company’s values.

 

 

Written by Trion Interns

Trion Communications jill.diffendal@gmail.com

How to Engage Employees who Telecommute

How to Engage Employees who Telecommute

There’s a good chance your company already gives employees the option to work from home. Telecommuting has exploded in recent years in the United States. In 2017, 43% of U.S. workers said they telecommute at least occasionally.

In many cases, work-from-home programs are good for both employers and employees. A recent Stanford study shows that employees who work from home are more productive. They also take fewer breaks, vacation days, and sick days. These are great benefits, but they’ll only be fully realized if employers clearly establish some ground rules with employees. The key to an effective telecommuting program, then, is the key to almost every successful workplace policy: Effective communication.

Here are four ways you can use communications to make sure that everyone sees the benefits of a successful work-from-home program. These strategies will help you engage employees who telecommute.

1. Communicate the benefits of telecommute program

For any new office initiative to be successful, you need buy-in from your employees. Working from home may seem like the holy grail of workplace perks for some personality types. Yet others may feel lonely and unsure without an office or co-workers who form a ready-made community. You might need extra effort to engage employees who telecommute.

Promote the benefits of the program in a way that appeals to all working styles and preferences. Stay focused on the “What’s In it For Them” and not how the program could to save the company money. For example, let them know by cutting out their daily commute to and from the office, there’s a good chance that they will see some real health benefits.

2. Provide employees with the information they need to create a productive work space at home

Emphasize they don’t necessarily need a separate space to use exclusively when they telecommute. Many people can work comfortably at their dining room table or on their back porch. What’s important is that they have the information to create the right environment to get work done. Share a checklist of items that create that optimal work space. This could include a reliable internet connection, a dedicated work phone, and an ergonomic chair and desk for comfort and health.

3. Promote ways for them to get the most of the experience, while meeting expectations

It is absolutely crucial that you lay out clear expectations for your employees before they begin to work remotely. For example, explain while you don’t expect them to be chained to their computer all day, they should be available to you and their coworkers just as much as they would be in the office. Send them regular communications so they stay on top of what’s happening at the office. Promote tips and tricks for them to get the most out of telecommuting experience and grow in their jobs and careers.

 4. Schedule regular face-to-face check-ins

Keeping tabs on your employees is the best way to address workplace issues as they arise. That’s true in an office environment, and even more so in a remote work situation. Regular one-one-one video chats foster the kind of connection you’d have with your employees if you were both in the same, physical office.  Remote workers feel more connected to their team. Managers can use these conversations to engage employees who telecommute. If it’s feasible, I also recommend regular in-person meetings with whole your team together in the office.

Communicate the benefits of a work-from-home program effectively. You’ll maximize productivity and help your employees strike an ideal work/life balance. These four tips should help you use effective communication to make sure your company’s telecommute program is a success.

 

 

Written by Jack Evans

Jack is an experienced marketing professional who specializes in custom benefits communications. In addition to contributing to the Trion Communications blog, Jack works with Trion clients to create mixed media communications packages that clearly explain and highlight the advantages of the client’s benefit offerings for their employees.

Trion Communications jack.evans@trion.com

Are You Supporting Your Employees’ Financial Wellness?

Are You Supporting Your Employees’ Financial Wellness?

A healthy work environment is one that considers all aspects of employees’ well-being. This includes physical, mental and yes, financial wellness.

If that last one is a surprise to you, check the pulse of your employees. Many of them want guidance through tough financial situations. Are giving them they support they need?

Wish List

Holistic financial wellness for employees goes beyond offering them a 401(K). A recent study showed a gap between programs employers think they should offer and what employees think should be available to them

For example, student loan debt is a well-known financial hurdle. The average borrower graduates college with $37,000 in debt. It can prevent younger employees from buying homes or achieving other financial milestones. Survey results show 46 percent of employees want their companies to help them pay off or finance student loan debt. 18 percent of bosses agreed.

You may have heard the financial mantra that you need an emergency fund that covers three to six months of living expenses. Unfortunately, according to a Bankrate survey, 23 percent of Americans have no emergency savings. In fact, 22 percent have only saved enough to cover fewer than three months.

It follows, then, that 44 percent of workers want their companies to offer them help to create that emergency fund. Only 22 percent of employers agree they should offer such help. With an emergency fund part of an overall budget plan, 36 percent of employees would also like assistance to maintain their budget.

Let’s Talk About Money

They are more examples of this divide, but you get the idea. Employees are looking to you, as an employer of choice, to throw them a financial life raft. We recommend using employee communications throughout the year to give workers support. Here are a few ways to get you started:

      • Use pay increases to as a time for a financial wellness conversation. Communications can encourage employees to tuck that extra money into their emergency fund. Create an infographic that shows even small increases can have big impacts. Show them how even a three percent raise on a $50,000 salary offers them an extra $1,500 per year. Total rewards statements help employees see the whole picture of their compensation. They will understand and appreciate the employee value proposition and you as an employer.
      • Create a savings account guide. This is a communication that lays out all the ways employees can save money. They’re no longer limited to stowing their money at their local bank. Online savings and money market accounts offer better interest rates. Or, your 401(K) provider may also offer a savings vehicle with a good rate of return. Show the pros and cons of different account providers. Teach employees where they can learn more about savings options.
      • Use communications to show employees where they’re leaving money on the table. Does your company match 401(K) contributions? Explain to workers how that’s essentially “free” money. Send year-end reminders to workers enrolled in flexible savings accounts so they remember to a use funds before expiration. Create a handy checklist of eligible expenses.

Awareness is the First Step

Open enrollment is another logical time to support workers to make wise financial choices. Encourage employees to choose plans that get them the care they need at a price they can afford. For example, HDHPs can be a vehicle for financial wellness for employees. These plans take a smaller chunk out of paychecks. In your communications, illustrate that difference. Employees can funnel the money they save from making smart benefits decisions towards student loan or other personal debt.

Workers might not know money in health savings accounts, which go hand-in-hand with HDHPs, grows tax-free. That money is theirs forever; it travels with them when they change jobs. And when employees are 55 years old, they can sock away an extra $1,000 annually. Create targeted, forward-thinking communications for baby boomers. When they retire, they can use their HSA to pay for covered medical expenses. Tell them that saving now can stop headaches in the future.

Encourage smart financial decisions in year-round communications. Your employee intranet is a smart place to house on-demand financial education. You can poll your workforce on the financial worries that keep them up at night (anonymously, of course!) Then, create and post short, educational videos, infographics, and fact sheets on those topics. Develop a mix to appeal to various learning and communications preferences. If time or resources are tight, you can link to educational videos and podcasts from outlets like You Need a Budget.

Personal financial stress affects all areas of life, including work performance. Help your workforce shine at home and at work. Use communications to show you look out for employees’ physical, mental and financial wellness.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Danielle Love

Danielle is a benefits communications specialist, working on behalf of clients to write, edit and design dynamic print and virtual communications. She also manages the Trion Communications blog, which highlights the practice’s diverse areas of expertise.

Trion Communications Danielle.Love@trion-mma.com

Do Your Employees Have FAQs About Their Benefits?

Do Your Employees Have FAQs About Their Benefits?

Two of the most critical functions of benefits communications are to educate and empower employees to choose benefits that suit their needs. The challenge is to present the right type and amount of information. You need to both hold their attention and ensure they have the information needed to make the best benefits-related decisions.

And yet, how do you know if you’ve done this effectively? For some employers the answer lies in crossed fingers and the measure of fewer calls to Human Resources. For others, it means you anticipate employee FAQs about benefits and proactively address them.

Never is this more critical than when you introduce a new benefit (e.g., plan design, product, service, etc.). Here are some things to include in your messaging to employees.

How Does This Benefit Work?

This seems simple but you’d be surprised at the number of benefits communications that lack a concise explanation of the benefit’s purpose. For example, if your company plans to offer a commuter benefit, make sure to explain in your employee FAQs what that benefit covers (i.e., public transportation and parking passes but not tolls or fuel costs).

Not sure if you’re getting your point across? Ask co-workers who are unfamiliar with benefits to read your explanation and summarize how they think the benefit works. Take this feedback and don’t be afraid to draft multiple revisions until the message is direct and clear.

How Much Does This Cost?

For some employees, this will always be the single most important FAQ about benefits. It isn’t always easy to answer, though. In the case of certain benefits, such as life insurance, the cost to the employee depends on a variety of factors (ie. age, health, desired level of coverage, etc.).

A good strategy is to be clear about whether a benefit is company-paid, a shared cost, or employee-paid. In the first case, spell out, “This benefit is provided by the company at no cost to you.” In the latter two cases, refer employees to additional documents or a decision-making tool that provide more specific cost information.

If you can’t immediately answer the cost question, make it easy for employees to find the information for themselves. Some of Trion’s clients use ALEX by Jellyvision benefits communication software to walk employees through their options and offer personalized recommendations. This is a helpful addition to your toolbox to answer common employee FAQs.

What Do I Need to Do?

A clear answer to this routine question prevents a frequently declared statement: “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that!” This is particularly important with open enrollment communications. Let employees know early and often if they need to take specific actions. Your communications shouldn’t be negative or threatening. But, it’s significant employees understand how their coverage could change if they do not participate in enrollment.

If employees have more questions that need detailed responses, resist the temptation to cram that information into your core message. A better option is to create a separate Frequently Asked Questions document. Put a call to action in your main communications to drive employees to that FAQ about benefits. Be proactive and you’ll take a big step toward reducing those panicked calls and emails from employees.

Written by Andrew Clancy

Andrew is an experienced communications professional who specializes in multimedia content creation. He enjoys the process of building communications solutions that achieve an organization’s objectives while empowering its employees through education.

Trion Communications Andrew.Clancy@trion-mma.com

Engage Your Employees With These Best Design Practices

Engage Your Employees With These Best Design Practices

I’ve worked in employee benefits communications for almost a decade now. As a graphic designer and communications expert, I’ve seen and created my fair share of pieces. These include guides, newsletters, postcards, posters, narrated videos and more. Benefits are complex and the stakes are high, so I feel good about helping clients deliver meaningful and visually appealing materials.

Not everybody has the luxury to work with a professional communications services firm to design their campaigns. If you’re in a DIY situation, this blog post teaches best design practices to improve benefits communications.

Best practices show a thoughtfully constructed layout combined with well-crafted text results in better comprehension. So remember to spend some time on design as you prepare to talk about your company’s benefit programs.

Employees rely on you to educate them on new offerings, changes to their current plans, or any perks that may be available. Design is a strategy to grab their attention and make it easier to navigate complicated information.

Here are five best design practices to give your materials that visual edge.

1) Have a Focal Point

At first glance, your piece needs a visual focal point. In a newsletter, for example, use a catchy headline in a bold font to reel in your employees. If you’re introducing new cost-saving benefits this year, make them stand out with a headline that reads something like: “Guess What’s Coming in 2018? New Benefit Offerings to Help You Save Money!” A visually striking headline is one best design practice that will make your employees want to read more.

2) Use Quality Photography

Quality stock photography is another best design practice that improves benefits communications. Select photos that help personalize your messages. You could take it a step further and use photos of your own employees to communicate your company’s benefit offerings. Balance text with memorable images to spark employees’ attention and communicate in a visually pleasant way.

3) Pick a Color Scheme

Simplify your newsletter with a minimum of two to three colors. If your company has a specific color palette or branding guidelines, add some of those elements to create best design practices. This insures the “look and feel” is compliant.

A color scheme brings a sense of harmony and balance to the layout. If you want to direct your employees to take action on a specific task, you could apply your company logo color to a call-out box. This draws more attention to the eye and helps guide your employees to take action.

4)Use Enough White Space

Allow enough space in between paragraphs, columns, images and text boxes to help identify where content belongs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across pamphlets or brochures where the text from one column ran into another. This is clearly not a best design practice! When text and imagery are spaced proportionately on a page, it makes it easier to read and understand the material.

5) Keep Your Fonts Simple

Just as the context you’re communicating is important, your font choice is just as crucial. I typically stick with two fonts, at a minimum. Too many different fonts make your newsletter feel cluttered and turns away readers.

A helpful way of incorporating good font usage in your newsletter is to use a typeface from a font family such as Arial or Franklin Gothic. This enables you to apply a bold, italic or semi-bold font from the same family and not go overboard with competing font choices. This best design practice will improve your benefits communications

These simple adjustments to your designs will win over your employees. They will stay engaged and interested in learning the value of their benefit programs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Amy Boulden

Amy works as a benefits communications specialist. Her creative background in graphic design has allowed her to create a library of client communications. Amy’s approach is to focus on simple, clear language and relatable graphics to effectively educate employees.

Trion Communications amy.boulden@trion-mma.com