Every year, when I see the Coca-Cola 'Holidays are coming' advert on TV, it makes me feel a bit warm and cosy. Now, “warm and cosy” aren't generally words you'd use to describe drinking Coca-Cola - so what's going on? And what the devil (you may ask), does this have to do with Reward communication?
Well, everything actually.
The reason I feel warm and cosy about Coke is down to the way in which they use Contextual and Content Marketing. Contextual Marketing comes from the world of online shopping, where brands use their knowledge of you, your needs and desires to serve up more content that they think will be of interest to you (think Netflix recommendations). Content Marketing is more about raising general interest and establishing a two-way relationship with people, rather than a hard sell (Coca-Cola demonstrated their mastery of this kind of marketing in 2011’s “Share a Coke” campaign). The combination of these two elements allows brands to be front of mind all year round.
Global brands are increasingly focussed on creating impactful and inspiring content and developing an ongoing meaningful relationship with their customers. It’s exactly the same when it comes to engaging with employees. Within so many organisations, Reward communication is often driven by deadlines relating to cyclical processes, rather than focussing on what employees really want (incidentally, Coca-Cola does this bit rather well too).
And what do they want? Well, the same as consumers (because employees are consumers too) - simple, personal and relevant messages which are timely, meaningful and genuine.
Reward practitioners have an enormous opportunity to use communication and all the channels at their disposal - not simply to notify employees of transactional changes to their remuneration packages - but to regularly connect their company's purpose, vision and strategic priorities to the desires and ambitions of individuals in a way that drives sustained engagement, performance and behavioural change. Effective communication is, after all, a balance between the transactional and emotional elements to drive greater employee engagement.
So, where to start? Here are a few tips:
- Have a clear narrative A simple story that outlines how you want employees to feel about Reward and how it connects to your company culture.
- Create a content strategy Connect your messages to your company's purpose, business strategy and people strategy - every communication is an opportunity to build upon and embed those messages.
- The whole is greater than the sum of its parts Employees don't differentiate between salary, bonus, benefits, shares, pensions, recognition (or indeed Talent, Onboarding or D&I – but that's another blog) - it's just their career. Ensuring that you're telling a consistent story across all these areas will help employees to realise the true value of Reward.
- Use data to communicate Reward in context That data can come from a number of areas. It could be from your own people - if an employee has recently been granted some shares, for example, congratulate them - don't just tell them when the vesting date is. Reward is not just about the monetary elements, as research by BambooHR shows. Alternatively, it could be as simple as connecting Reward messages to well-known holidays, seasons or some topical news. Again, making content relevant will encourage employees to engage more.
- Start a conversation about Reward with your people All employee communication should be a two-way affair and Reward is no different. You can get things started by finding champions and advocates to tell their stories and help bring Reward to life.
- Try and have a bit of fun with it! Of course, Reward communication needs to be accurate and compliant. But that doesn't mean it can’t be inspiring.
So, in summary, start thinking about Reward communication as an ongoing action, not a deadline-based action. Your people and your company will thank you for it.