Supporting your programme with communications

Communication CartoonCommunicating your incentive programme effectively is critical to ensure employee engagement and more importantly participation in your programme. Many organisations make the mistake of launching their incentive programme with a fanfare and fail to follow it up with regular, consistent and engaging communications.

Regular and engaging communications will keep your audience up to speed on significant end-of-year incentives, as well as regular, smaller promotions so that you can ensure that momentum is maintained throughout and you achieve the results you need.


Have a communications budget

A common issue is that organisations often don’t put enough thought and resources into communicating their incentive programme.

Communicating your programme isn’t a ‘no-cost’ activity so you need to ensure that you have a budget allocated for regular communications to your employees. Assigning your programme a communications budget of 15-20% of your total employee incentive programme budget and creating a structured communication plan can make the world of difference to the uptake of any incentive scheme.


Segment your target audience

Your workforce will be made up of different groups who will have different needs and concerns based on their life stage, location or other factors.

HR managers can learn a lot from the customer segmentation that marketers use to make sure they are communicating using the most appropriate medium for their audience, and using language they can relate to. And the more clearly you can define your audience, the easier it will be to make choices about your messages and communication channels.

For example, one common way to segment employees is by generation:

Generation Generation Z Generation Y (Millennials) Generation X Baby Boomers
When Born? 1996 onwards 1980 – 1995 1965 – 1979 1946 – 1964
Which are the communication platforms most likely to reach me? Apps, social media, instant messaging appeal to this generation, who expect information available at a time that is convenient to them. To reach these high-tech individuals regarding their benefits, you should be prepared to communicate with them via social media and instant messaging. Gen Xers prefer to do their own research online prior to making financial decisions, so provide links to benefits websites, videos, whitepapers and blogs. Also be prepared to communicate about benefits via email, but don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or schedule an in-person meeting to provide further clarification as needed. While many of them use social media, not all of this generation is technologically savvy, so be open to personal communication methods as well as direct mail and PowerPoint presentations.
What language should you use? Use succinct messages and don’t be afraid to use humour or visual stimulus to attract the attention of these ‘digital natives’. With a shorter attention span than previous generations, be sure to use your limited face- to-face time wisely to maintain their interest. This generation is not too big on small talk, so keep your messages concise. Do not use slang or overly casual language with this audience.


Talking about my generation
Talking about my generation If you want to know more about the different generations check out our four-part series on what makes the individual generations tick:


But other segments you might want to include are payroll, HR, line managers, offsite employees, employees on long-term leave, new starters, senior executives and board members.

An employee survey will help you discover the best way to segment your employees. Ask yourself: How would you describe your different groups? How are they likely to react to your message? What factors influence the way your audience receives your message, i.e. offsite with no computer? What life stage are they at? What common concerns do people have?


Consider your communication channels

The Importance Of CommunicationWhen it comes to selecting the best channels for your employees, consider what you already have, what’s feasible in terms of the resources your have (financial and physical), and which ones will support and reinforce each other. By doing so, you’ll increase employees’ knowledge about your programme, improve participation, boost your retention rates and deliver a higher return on investment.

While you should communicate some generic key messages, it is good practice to personalise your message to individuals. Ask yourself: What motivates each target audience? What does the audience already know? What does the audience need to know? What do we want to tell them? Is the message clear and specific?


Want to find out more?

Read the next article in the series: Interacting and engaging with your employees >>

Back to the How do you get maximum impact from your employee incentive programme? home page.


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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