Benefits: considerations that drive employee engagement

Employee benefits planningEmployee disengagement costs organisations billions of pounds every year and directly impacts your bottom line. So it’s no wonder that HR professionals and senior management are asking whether employee benefits will drive an improvement in employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Unfortunately there is no clear-cut answer, because the answer is, ‘It depends.’ So in this article I highlight some of the benefits considerations that can help you improve your employee engagement.

 

1. Satisfy their basic needs

Success in using employee benefits to improve engagement depends on offering the right benefits for your workforce, which means understanding what your employees’ wants and desires. At some level this is fairly simple to achieve, as you can just ask your employees using surveys, focus groups and staff meetings. However, it is useful to understand why it is important.

Although it’s been around for a long time, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs relates directly to the challenges and opportunities that face organisations today. Successful organisations support their staff, which results in improved motivation, morale and engagement, which could be interpreted as Maslow’s self-actualisation level.

But Maslow’s hierarchy comes into play in different ways, if you can provide benefits to your employees that satisfy their biological and physiological needs (level 1) and their safety needs (level 2) then you’re enabling them to perform better. As an example, it’s difficult to motivate people to perform if financial problems are causing stress and worry outside of work.

 

2. Offer benefits that build your organisational culture

aligning valuesEngaged employees are fully committed to your organisation and it’s success, and employee benefits are one of the tools that help you do that.

To achieve this, you need to offer perks that not only satisfy your employees’ needs but they also need to align with your company values. For example, if one of your values is based on caring and community then one employee benefit could be paid time off for local charitable work.

 

3. Keep talking about your benefits scheme

One of the biggest contributors to engagement is communication. After all if employees don’t know about the great benefits they are being offered, then they won’t participate in the scheme and that will affect employee engagement.

A great launch event will generate a buzz about your benefits, but you need to keep talking to your employees throughout the year about the benefits they are being offered and how they can help them. It’s great to have an employee benefits communication plan to help you achieve this.

You need to choose the right communication channels. Think about, and ask, how your employees like to access benefits information. Posters, emails, online staff portals, SMS messages, benefits leaflets, and staff handbooks are all good ways to communicate and engage with your employees.

Make sure you are using the right communications messages. This isn’t about, “Aren’t our benefits wonderful!” it’s about communicating how the benefits can improve your employees’ lifestyle – and if you can demonstrate it with real-life examples and case studies even better. Show them how the benefits are relevant to them.

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Employee benefits communication plan

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As well as demonstrating how useful the benefits are to your employees you need to keep them up-to-date with changes to the scheme and maintain regular contact with them so you can find out what they think of the scheme and where you can make improvements. Having some employee benefits champions in the workplace can help spread the messages about updates to the scheme quickly and engage with employee face-to-face to obtain both formal and informal feedback.

 

Creating a highly engaged workforce takes time and isn’t soley reliant on a great suite of employee benefits by any means. However, benefits that are communicated appropriately, satisfy your employees’ basic needs, build your organisation culture and define what you stand for will drive improvements in engagement levels and help you attract and retain the best talent.

 

John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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