Employees want to feel valued. You want to keep your employees satisfied, engaged in their roles, and with your company for the long haul. According to a Gallup poll, employees who are engaged are 59% less likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months.
Consistent and helpful communications make employees feel a part of the team. Forty-eight percent rated transparent communication as something that makes them feel like they belong at work. Communications can help you retain the best and brightest employees if you meet their information needs. Here are some tips to help you do that.
Create Trust with Transparency
If you want employees who are invested in their jobs, you’ll need open and honest communication. We no longer live in an age where companies push out only self-serving information. To engage with employees, you need their trust and two-way communications build that trust.
What are employees’ concerns? What suggestions do they have to improve company culture? The best way to find out is to ask. Make sure to set the stage and the expectations appropriately. After all, you don’t want to invite feedback you’re not able to do anything about. Conduct focus groups where workers can talk in a safe and confidential setting. This will make them feel like their opinions count and engage them in any changes.
Make sure to act on employees’ comments. Send follow-up communications to let them know how they’ll be used and what you plan to do with the information. That way, they’ll feel like you take seriously. In turn, employees will put more trust in the messages you push out through other corporate communications.
You want to be transparent in your communications. Don’t sugar coat messages that may not resonate well with employees. This is another way to engender their trust. Be thoughtful and diplomatic, but honest. Transparency shows you trust your staff. Treat them with respect and they are more inclined to stay. Above board communications will improve your employee retention.
Take Their Pulse
Employees want to be heard. Learn what communications channels reach them most effectively. And, if you’re not sure, ask. Survey them on what they’d like to know and then give it to them. Use different media to meet them where they are. Keep in mind that you’ll likely have to create different communications strategies and tactics for different preferences and learning styles. Why create a desk drop flyer if Employee A throws it out? Why craft a well-worded email if Employee B deletes it? If you respect employee’s listening and learning styles, it shows you value them.
How you frame a message is just as important as how you deliver it. Be thoughtful about engaging employees from the outset. Make dry topics more interesting by putting the “What’s In It For Me” at the top. Since employees are individuals with their own needs and goals, they’ll be most engaged when you lead with what the message means for them.
Show employees you care about their input on content matters. Survey your workforce on what type of company news they want to hear. Maybe they are curious about what’s happening in another department. Maybe they want to know more about the broader industry. Take their pulse on communication needs and they will be more likely to pay attention.
Timing and Recognition Matter
With a well-thought out employee communications plan, you show you trust and value your staff. Employees want to know how their assignments help the company meet its goals. In fact, employees who feel their work doesn’t contribute to overall business goals are more likely to leave.
Communicate with workers outside of the annual performance review. Send a simple “you go!” email when someone completes a difficult project. Praise employees’ efforts and use messaging as a motivational tool to retain the best and brightest employees.
However, you must watch the frequency of your employee communications. Send too many and the most important messages risk getting lost in the shuffle. You don’t want workers to automatically tune out when another company announcement pops up in their in-box and interrupts their work flow.
Be strategic and stagger communications. Create a calendar for your messages for the upcoming year. Take into account periods with lots of vacation time and the busy season when employees are highly focused on their assignments. Use analytics to track open rates for emails and plan accordingly. If no one is reads messages on Monday mornings, it’s time to send on a new day.
Employees want to be heard and they want to receive messages that will help them do their jobs. Effective communications are one tool to help you retain the best and brightest.
It has become rare to eat a meal with friends without having at least one person request modifications to their dish. More restaurants offer build-your-own options, from salads to stir-fry to the traditional Korean dish, bibimbap. This desire for customization goes further than food. People are looking for it in their jobs as well.
People want jobs they can customize to complement their lifestyle. For companies to stay competitive in the job market, they need to offer such flexibility.
Many employees have demanding responsibilities at home and at work. Trying to balance it all can become overwhelming, resulting in low quality work or missed assignments. Letting employees choose their own work schedule or work remotely helps them balance their responsibilities. This improves job satisfaction and productivity and reduces absenteeism.
Employees who have workplace flexibility achieve more, are happier at work and are less prone to burnout and psychological stress. Employees want work flexibility.
- 51% of employees would switch to a job that allows them flextime.
- 37% of employees would switch to a job that allows them to work off-site at least part of the time.
- 42% of employees would take a lower-paying job if it offers more work flexibility.
- Some employees are even willing to leave their current jobs for a series of temporary jobs, just to have flexible hours.
Sixty-nine percent of full-time employees are not completely satisfied with their current benefits. With five generations in the workplace, it’s easy to see how one benefit plan can miss the needs of employees who are in different stages of their lives. Tuition reimbursement may be popular with Millennials, but how relevant is it to Baby Boomers who are looking ahead at retirement? How about offering some flexibility with your benefits?
- Flexible Benefit Plans: Employers can offer core benefits (salary, health insurance, and retirement). They can add optional choices like life insurance or dental insurance. Costs for optional benefits can either fully paid by employers or shared with the employees.
- Flexible Spending Accounts: Employers can offer flexible spending accounts where employees deposit pre-tax dollars to spend on child care or transportation. Employers can also contribute to these funds.
- Paid Time Off (PTO): Instead of a division between vacation days and sick days, employers can offer a bank of total paid time off. This prevents healthy workers from getting “penalized” because they are not using sick days and discourages employees from calling-in sick for a day off.
Not every company can offer flexible schedules or flexible benefits to their employees. All companies can create flexible environments to complement their employees’ lifestyle and values. Here are some perks your company can offer to employees:
- Casual dress code
- Pet-friendly office
- Summer hours
- Wellness programs with discounted gym memberships or on-site yoga classes
- Transportation or parking reimbursement
- Volunteer day
Flexibility is important to attract and keep talent in this competitive job market. Remember to keep your company’s culture, values, and operations in mind to balance your with your employees’ wants.
It’s October. Haunted hayrides scare eager customers, pumpkin patches are filled with jack-o-lanterns waiting to be carved, and stores are stocked with sugary treats. Yes, October means Halloween is right around the corner!
It’s also time for your company to introduce open enrollment season. As a conscientious human resources professional, you put a lot of diligence into crafting your benefits offerings. Your company’s carefully written benefits guide might answer the questions: Is this an active or passive enrollment? Are there new insurance carriers? Will medical premiums increase next year?
Yet, the real question is: Which Halloween candy best represents your company’s benefits?
This candy is old-school chocolate goodness. No fancy add-ins; it has tasted the same for generations. A Hershey® bar represents basic employee benefits.
Maybe your company offers only one medical plan option. Maybe your company does not contribute money for workers’ health savings accounts if they elect a high deductible health plan. Maybe the long-term disability offering is 100% employee-paid instead of funded by the company. Maybe telecommuting is not an option for workers at your organization.
Hershey® style benefits take care of workers’ baseline needs. These employee benefits are all about simplicity. Smaller or newer companies may start out with simple benefits as they get off the ground. With Hershey® bar offerings, the key is in the presentation. Benefits communications should be dynamic and engaging. With streamlined benefits, your company can offer non-monetary perks, like casual dress or summer half-day Fridays, to show employees they are valued.
This candy has it all: Nougat, caramel, peanuts, and chocolate. A Snickers® bar represents the full suite of employee benefits.
Medical, dental and vision insurance at various price points? Check. Basic and supplemental life and long-term and short-term disability insurance? Of course. Accident coverage to help pay for trips to the emergency room? Definitely. Health care, dependent care and transportation flexible spending accounts? Certainly. Employee assistance program to offer work-life guidance? Sure. Company match for the 401(K) savings plan? Affirmative. Parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child? Absolutely.
Keeping pace with the competition matters in recruitment and retention. Snickers® style benefits offer something for the widest employee demographic. Not every worker will enroll in each benefit. Offering possibilities creates and maintains a satisfied workforce.
This candy’s chocolate and coconut combination is not for everyone’s sweet tooth. But it does have its loyal followers.
A Mounds® bar represents out-of-the-box employee benefits. Your company offers employees the chance to buy supplemental long-term care insurance. That benefit is attractive to the sandwich generation. Between caring for aging parents and raising children, they need to think about their own future. Your company has a student loan repayment program. Such a benefit is golden for recruiting and retaining Millennial and upcoming Gen Z employees. Members of the Class of 2016 graduated college with an average debt of $37,172, according to Student Loan Hero. Your company takes care of its workers’ furry friends by offering voluntary pet insurance. Vet bills can add up, so this coverage gives employees peace of mind. The organization could have a pet-friendly office, so instead of finding a pet daycare, employees work alongside dogs and cats.
Not every corporation offers benefits like these and they make yours stand out. Mounds® style benefits appeal to fringe groups of employees. Your company offers standard benefits too, but uncommon offerings make workers feel appreciated.
Hershey®, Snickers® or Mounds®? No matter the flavor of your employee benefit offerings, they should sweeten the deal to hire and keep the brightest workers.
The presence of many generations in the workplace creates its share of challenges for employers. Organizations feature blends of Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials, with the first members of Gen Z joining the team.
It’s tempting to focus your benefits communications on those in the early stages of their careers. Here are three tips to ensure that you don’t forget the needs of your older employees when you communicate about employee benefits.
1. Put the “youth movement” in perspective.
No one can dispute the critical importance of the Millennial generation to the future of the global economy. Researchers speculate this segment of the population could make up 75 percent of the American workforce by 2025. Each day brings us closer to that reality, but there is still a need to speak to the other generations that make up your current staff. It’s a good idea to review your benefits communication tactics to ensure they are an accurate reflection of your workplace. Pay attention to everything from the images you select to the tone of your messages.
2. Match your message to your usage.
In a data-driven age, use the available tools to determine employees’ preferred method to receive messages
. But be cautious about using certain tactics across your company. Social media
is a growing area of benefits communication. An organization that has a high percentage of employees over age 60 may want to stick to more traditional tactics to reach this group, though
As for the message itself, consider which segment of your employee population is most likely to use a particular benefit. For example, if you have a greater number of older employees, you may want to emphasize the highlights of your company’s prescription drug plan.
3. Help older employees reach their goals.
While each generation in the workplace has visions of retiring one day, older employees have the finish line in sight. With a greater number of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age each year, address both their pre- and post-retirement needs. This could include info on how a 401(k) works after retirement or the portability of certain employee-paid voluntary benefits. As employees become eligible for Medicare, you can explain the differences between Medicare and employer-provided health care.
Employee benefits are routinely cited as a key part of a company’s talent retention effort. Make sure your communications deliver an engaging message to both your current MVPs and the rising stars that will one day fill their roles.
“If you build it, they will come.” Sure, it’s one of the more memorable lines in movie history. But it’s terrible business advice, whether you’re talking about a startup company, a new location of a retail store or restaurant, or employee benefits.
If you don’t tell people what’s available, they don’t know it exists. That’s why the U.S. spends $180 billion a year on advertising.
Benefits are one of the biggest operating expenses of any business. But are you getting the maximum value out of that investment?
It makes sense, both financially and in terms of recruitment and retention, to encourage employees to take advantage of the benefits you spend so much on. Consider the following:
- 38% of global employers report difficulty filling jobs, according to a 2015 survey by the Manpower Group.
- 96% of workers who are satisfied with their benefits also say they are extremely/very satisfied with their job, according to the 2016 Aflac Workforces Report.
- Companies with no communications strategy are three times more likely to lose high-potential talent, according to 2016 data from Aptitude Research Partners.
- The same data showed a strong link between communications and both employee engagement and positive candidate experience. Among employers with a communications strategy in place, 78% report improved employee experience and 82% reported improved candidate experience in the past year.
If you offer a competitive benefits package, you’re already most of the way there. You just need a plan to communicate those benefits that factors in best practices, such as:
- Communicate year round, not just at open enrollment.
- Include voices from leadership to convey sponsorship and model desired behaviors.
- Use a variety of tactics to appeal to different kinds of learners (e.g., email, print, video, face-to-face meetings, webinars, etc.)
- Emphasize the WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me) – that is, put it in terms that resonate with employees’ needs, not the company’s.
- Keep it simple by using clear, straightforward messages and calls to action. Don’t dump every single thing you want employees to know in one email. Avoid jargon or overly complex scenarios.
You’ve already taken the ball to the one-yard line. A communications plan is the push you need to get into the end zone. Find more tips on creating a good plan by downloading our white paper, Educating Employees About Their Benefits: A Six-Step Approach. You can also take a look at some of the ways we’ve helped clients unlock the value of their benefits programs in our online portfolio.