The employee lifecycle typically encompasses attraction and recruitment, onboarding, development, retention and separation – when the employee leaves the organisation. Mapping benefits to employee lifecycles is key to driving uptake, layering on top of that a strategy to match the right benefits to your workforce demographic. But, aside from high profile Silicon Valley tech giants, most organisations are still offering the same one-size-fits-all employee benefits as they did five years ago.
An employee lifecycle approach presents many opportunities to maximise the organisation’s benefits programme. At the attraction and recruitment stage, HR professionals can promote benefits via web portals, social media and within positive reviews on sites such as Glassdoor.
The onboarding phase is the ideal time to get employees to sign up to the benefits that interest them. At this stage, the new employee is highly receptive to communications and it is important to maximise this opportunity.
During the development and retention stages of employment, it is essential to tailor benefits to the personal circumstances of individual employees or at the very least, to groups of employee personas, such as new parents or long-time employees close to retirement.
HR professionals sometimes overlook the last piece in the puzzle – mapping the benefit strategy right through to the final separation stage. As an employee prepares to leave the organisation, use the exit interview to get feedback on benefits. Did the employee realise the full range of benefits that had been available to them? Or had there been a degree of apathy relating to the benefits scheme?
Here some tips to effectively map benefits to employee lifecycles to drive benefits uptake:
Take a retail marketer approach, to map benefits – and the communication of benefits – explicitly to employee lifecycles
Map out the employee lifecycle and also create personas of groups of employees in order to design a highly segmented internal communications plan.
It is a good idea to create employee lifecycle models that reflect different types of employment, ranging from full-time to seasonal and contract employment.
The lifecycle of seasonal employment may only span a matter of weeks but it is still possible to map a cut-down version of the benefits strategy that is applicable to full-time employees to these seasonal employees.
Bring benefits to life with personalisation, making them understandable and relevant to each individual employee wherever they are in their employment lifecycle – and in their life. Check in regularly with employees to ensure that the benefits scheme is offering something relevant to them.
When the single 20-something becomes a mortgaged 30-something with a child, priorities change rapidly and the types of benefits you’re promoting need to change accordingly.
Develop a comprehensive internal communications plan that drives enthusiasm and interest beyond traditional benefit windows
Typically, organisations have tended to promote benefits just once a year, having an annual push on promoting the cycle to work scheme, for example.
It is vital to replace this with regular, targeted communications and teaser promotions to build anticipation and understanding.
You must also ensure that employees understand the potential value of these benefits and that they can be a valuable supplement to their basic salary. Traditional ‘total reward statements’ still have a part to play in this.
Assess which communication medium is right for your business – emails promoting benefit schemes can get lost in the daily email avalanche.
Closed groups on social media or corporate collaboration platforms such as Yammer might be more effective than established techniques to get your message across, and can work as a mechanism for recognition as well as communicating benefits.
Or, with permission, you might text your workforce with information about the benefits available to them.
Organisations with a highly positive company culture and a very appealing benefits offer might even consider an open, public social media platform, so that potential candidates can see what the organisation offers.
Integrate communications about benefits within other corporate communications channels
Consider showcasing employee benefits delivery on your rewards and recognition portal and even alongside career development and recruitment channels.
Appoint champions of company benefits
Maximise ‘on-the-ground’ stakeholder representation to create ‘super fans’ throughout your business. Line managers should be key advocates, ideally supporting HR in delivering benefits as part of an integrated approach to ongoing performance management.
Consider building a separate stream of communications into your plan designed purely to engage key stakeholders, as these are the people that will bring the scheme to life in the eyes of those ‘in the trenches’.
Measure results and act on them
A key starting point is to set measurable performance indicators – this might be a growth in the percentage uptake of the benefit scheme or take a step back to seek increased levels of engagement in your communications (as these are a means to gauge interest).
Regular, quick pulse surveys can provide data about employee response to the schemes on offer. Research by Psychological Technologies (PSYT) based on data from its wellbeing app found that if every employee in the UK was 1% happier it could add an extra £24 billion to the UK economy every year, boosting the profits of a business with 10,000 staff by £7.38 million.
Think like a marketer
Many organisations have been using the same benefits schemes for years. It is time to take a cold hard look at benefits and to be realistic about whether they are delivering any advantage. If not, is this because the wrong benefits are on offer, or is it because they are simply not being communicated effectively to the workforce?
HR professionals must begin to emulate digital marketers by personalising their approach to communicating with and engaging employees. In fact, it is good idea to make connections with any digital marketing colleagues to share ideas and expertise.
Mapping employee lifecycles to benefits in order to promote the right benefit at the right time will deliver the required return on investment and the very best outcome for the organisation.
About Adam Whatling
Adam Whatling is Engagement and Technology Lead at Love2shop Business Services, the corporate division of Park Group plc. Adam has extensive experience in delivering employee engagement boosting programmes that utilise enticing benefits and a raft of rewards in recognition of workforce achievements.