Why Your Employees Aren’t Engaging With Your Total Reward Package

August 4th 2020 in Chris Andrew, Employee Communications, Reward

Ensuring employees understand and value their rewards package is essential for reward to do its job of driving growth and performance goals.

While a competitive reward scheme can help you attract and keep talent, poor communication over the long term can lead to confusion, devaluation, low uptake, and high employee turnover. It’s imperative that a well-packaged reward program goes hand-in-hand with effective communication that taps into your employees’ emotional and professional needs.

When it feels like you’re doing all you can to help your teams understand their total reward and appreciate its value, what do you do if your employees still aren’t engaging with reward?

The biggest engagement challenges around total reward

Back in 2013, 64% of employers who had invested in benefits failed to tell their employees about them at all. We’d like to think we’ve come a long way since then. However, 62% of employees today are still reporting dissatisfaction around their workplace incentives and the way they’re communicated.

While companies are starting to switch on to the need to improve employee engagement with total reward, they still come up against obstacles that prevent their reward scheme from achieving its full potential.

Globally, companies report losing a total of £22.75 billion on employee turnover every year, which could be significantly reduced with an effective reward communication strategy that inspires and engages.

This can’t just be a short term strategy that focuses on new recruits, or an internal campaign designed to communicate a specific change – it has to be long term to have an impact. Companies that see high levels of employee engagement with reward are 25% more likely to communicate with their teams at least every two months about their benefits.

So, what are the key areas that get overlooked when it comes to an engagement strategy?

1. Not enough opportunities for engagement

If we take every two months as a benchmark for reward communication, that means employers will have to come up with at least six different ways each year to engage with their employees with their total reward. These reminders can be built into an overarching employee engagement and internal communications strategy, with certain benefits being communicated at key times (such as gym membership in January, discounts around Christmas time, outdoor volunteering opportunities in the summer months, etc.). When you remind people regularly of the rewards they have access to, at points in the year when they’re most likely to engage with them, it’s more likely that reward uptake will increase.

2. Failure to engage different employee groups

The workplace is always evolving, and as a new generation enters the workforce, they bring a new set of expectations and values. Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z all have very different needs and priorities.

To communicate effectively, you’ll need to understand the nuances of your different audiences as well as what communication channels they’re using. This will tell you a lot about how they most effectively absorb information.

One in seven employers still communicate their total reward statements via paper only, which can be alienating to younger staff who are more used to digital, interactive communication. 

Move away from communication tactics that don’t excite these employees, and introduce digital elements instead. Infographics, social media, apps, and videos are more likely to capture these employees’ attention and motivate them to keep engaging. This is one of the main ways marketers have adapted over the last decade, and the same applies to your internal communication.

3. Not using data to shape your employee engagement strategy

A study by benefits platform Thomsons found that only 28% of employers are using data and analytics to actively improve benefits take-up.

Organisations will often have access to a huge amount of information in their rewards platform, meaning it’s easy to find out which of your employees have children, are living alone, or what kinds of benefits they have opted for or actively use. This information is invaluable for you to understand what’s important to them.

The same study also found that companies using analytics have a 14% higher employee engagement score (73% compared to 59%). By creating tactical and targeted communications that are timely, relevant and contextual, you can directly address employees’ needs and priorities.

4. Not varying engagement tactics

Companies who rely on emails and PDF attachments which focus purely on transactional, need-to-know information are unlikely to be driving engagement. The companies who see the most success in engaging employees with reward take an approach that’s inspiring, dynamic, and relatable, making use of digital technology and media formats that we all use in our day to day lives.

For example, you could create a podcast or web video series highlighting various elements of your reward package at different times of the year. Episodes might focus on the cyclical events which are typically more difficult to generate engagement around – such as benefits enrollment, salary reviews, and bonus communications – as well as seasonally relevant rewards such as gym memberships in January and cycle to work schemes in summer.

With this approach, you connect individual elements of your reward package to the context of employees’ lives in a way that’s engaging, human, and easy-to-understand.

What does an engaging reward communication strategy look like?

A well-defined reward communication strategy reflects the values and culture of a company. Your employee’s total reward package is a big part of your company culture, and active engagement in reward can help shape a company-wide culture and attitude.

Leaders of reward need to focus on connecting with people emotionally, using emotionally-charged positioning phrases such as “saving for the future”, “looking after your friends and family” and “feeling proud to be part of something greater”.

When your rewards are clearly defined in this way, it’s easy to group them into a series of engagement-focused programmes promoting everything from share schemes to employee perks and discounts they can gift to family and friends.

Focusing on emotional engagement not only results in higher reward take-up, but it also sees employee advocacy rise across the business as your teams feel more satisfied with what you’re offering.

Promote various elements of your total reward frequently, placing emphasis on specific benefits, while using a variety of communication methods at key times of the year. This is your key to success.

Reaching your reward engagement goals

You can have the perfect reward program and communicate it well, but unless you reiterate those key messages at key times to keep them at the forefront of peoples’ minds, your offer is likely to be forgotten.

The longevity of your communication strategy is crucial. In the same way marketers make an audience aware of a new product through multi-platform communication updated over a period of time, employers can apply similar practices to communicating their total reward program. Put your employees at the centre, think in the long term, have clear objectives, and take a robust approach to data analysis. Then, you’ll see sustained engagement across your total reward package.

Looking for support with your reward communication? That’s what we’re here for.

Get in touch with us and let’s have a conversation.