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We’re back with our monthly series ‘Experts talk’ – where we lift the lid on key HR communication challenges. This month we chat to Caburn Hope’s Account Manager and global reward communications expert Stevie Robinson.

In the second instalment of the series, we discuss what global reward professionals should address for a successful strategy, whilst maintaining brand consistency.

What do you think makes a successful global reward communication strategy?

Stevie: To be successful, your campaign needs to work on two levels, globally and locally.

Globally, you need to create a strong identity, value proposition and campaign story. If you align this to what’s happening within the rest of the business – and get backing from key senior stakeholders – your campaign will fit naturally into the global communications plan while bringing its own noise and gravitas.

In order for a campaign to work locally your strategy must be flexible to local needs (and budgets!). This will be the groundwork for implementing a successful localised campaign across international markets.

Local teams need to buy into the campaign story and take ownership of executing the strategy in their home market. Ideally, it should contain a ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ of collateral that is created centrally but adaptable in-market. This allows you to support them with a raft of readymade comms materials that cater to local market needs, while maintaining the integrity of the campaign.

Remember, the strategy can’t be a ‘top down’ process as it won’t be embraced by your global teams. Involve and educate people at all levels so they get emotionally on-board with the campaign.

What are your top tips for an effective global reward roll-out or update?

Stevie: You’ve got to know what your proposition is; what are you offering employees and why should they care? Get them excited and inspired, make them feel included and part of ‘the bigger picture’. Employees are more likely to buy into your campaign if you involve them in the story as well as the process.

It’s also incredibly important to have realistic expectations of employee knowledge. Some subjects/areas of reward, such as shares and tax, may be new to your global audience. Make sure you allow space in your campaign to educate them where needed. This will enable employees to understand the messages coherently.

When it comes to global reward comms, what’s important to employees?

Stevie: Treat people as individuals – they need to feel like you are rewarding them in a way that works for them. Offer a reward package that is relevant and that they understand the value of what you are offering. In terms of comms, you can’t just send an email and expect them to feel engaged with your message. It’s a nudge and nurture process when it comes to communication – similar to marketing actually!

Do your homework on all the markets you’re targeting before coming up with the strategy. The messaging or touchpoints applied must be relevant to individual market needs. There’s no point building an app or a website if your audience have limited accessibility to the internet. You’ll be cutting employees out of the story before you’ve begun – and spending a considerable amount of budget in the process.

In your view, who should ideally be involved in the project?

Stevie: To embed a message successfully, you need ‘buy-in’ from the top so involve the c-suite. It goes without saying that reward and comms teams (both on a global and local level) should be involved. Engage all levels of the business so people ‘buy-in’ to the purpose and message.

They’ll be times when you’ll need to tailor your approach. Some stakeholders will understand the detail or transactional process of the project. But there will be moments when others appreciate the emotional spectrum e.g. employee needs and a localised approach to comms channels.

Are their any exciting developments in this field?

Stevie: Organisations are realising the importance of implementing a creative approach to reward communication. People are consuming higher quality media these days (thanks to technology) and businesses are getting on-board with that. There is also an emotional shift in the workplace whereby employees are no longer content with exchanging labour for money.

As a consequence, businesses are redefining their purpose, offering more flexible reward packages and understanding the importance of an engaged workforce. As a result, reward professionals are becoming bolder and more creative, making a greater impact with their comms.

Where do you see the future of reward communication going?

Stevie: Due to the emerging trends in the world of work and technology, we will see increasingly sophisticated campaigns become the norm. To stand out above ‘the noise’, employers will need to think at the same level as major consumer brands. Personally, I think that’s very exciting in terms of the quality and creativity of future-facing reward communication.

Are there any companies that are ‘doing it right’?

Stevie: Unilever’s reward communications are very closely aligned to its external comms which brings it to a whole new level. They understand the balance of emotional vs transactional needs. They leverage their knowledge of the B2C world and apply it to HR communication. In terms of strategy and creativity, their employee comms is as high a standard as the consumer brand.

For more information on how to effectively roll-out a reward communication strategy, please click here.

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