When promoting a global employee share plan, we’re up against a whole host of challenges.
Reams of information bombarding colleagues, your objectives differing from your audience’s, people working in different time zones, language barriers, cultural differences… the list goes on.
The question is, how do you cut through the noise and create a campaign that inspires employees?
That’s what we looked to answer when hosting ProShare’s ‘Communicating a Global Share Plan’ event in January 2021.
The session saw our Founder Chrissie Davis and Head of Communications Graeme Cook tackle this topic with clients Melanie Keegan, Global Share Plans Manager at Ocado Group and Alison Burstall, Group Reward Director at Kingfisher plc, who with our support, both successfully delivered worldwide initiatives in 2020.
So, here are our eight main takeaways from the session:
1. Be mindful it’s change
We may think change communications is only about announcing reorganisations, mergers or acquisitions, but the majority of employee comms are about change – including share plans. You’re presenting something new, giving people a decision to make that will impact on their finances. So, to provide the best experience, you first need to consider how our minds react to new information, and work with them. Our brains are hardwired to reject change – a bit like the frustration we feel adjusting to a new phone – so you need to make your employees excited about your share plan benefits, so colleagues believe the additional brain strain is worth the effort.
2. What’s the point?
You’ll lose your audience if you spend too long getting to the good stuff, so address the who, what, where, why and how as quickly as possible. Make it clear at the outset why people should care about your communications and work on the premise people will glance at your message and move on. If that’s the case, what is it you want them to remember?
3. Keep it snappy
As well as making your point, a great skill to learn is to minimise the words needed to get there.
Remember, less words equals maximum impact. So, keep asking yourself what padding are you able to lose in your communications?
4. Get plenty of eyes on it
Never be too proud to ask people’s opinion at all levels of the business, in related and unrelated departments, of what you’re going to communicate. When you’ve looked at something for so long, it’s easy to stop seeing the mistakes, or misjudge how your message will be perceived by others – so get more eyes on what you’re doing and you’re less likely to send out something that may be misunderstood or have a negative impact on employee engagement.
5. Be a jargon-buster and translator
If you’ve been in any industry for a long enough, there are terms and phrases you forget not everyone knows. Share plans are no different. Vesting… dividends… SIPs… there are so many technical terms most people don’t understand, so do your best to either use simple phrases, or at least provide definitions in your communications for unavoidable legal terms so people don’t feel left in the dark.
6. Simplify the complex
This is what all great communicators do – and the better you can simplify the complex, the more likely people will want to engage with your campaign. That’s why at Eximia, we look to deliver communications in bitesize chunks, and where possible, visualise lengthy explanations or processes to make it easier to understand.
7. Know your audience
Arguably, this is the most important tip. The onus shouldn’t be on your teammates working out your message, it’s for you to think about who you’re communicating to and deliver something that’s best for them. So, find out as much about your people as possible, including what content they want, in what format and delivered via which channel.
8. Tell a story
We are told fables and tales from a young age for good reason – stories are like velcro for the brain, making cold hard facts more memorable. That’s why a message from a CEO taking employees through a share plan journey, or an employee talking about their experience, really helps get your message to stick and gives employees the chance to imagine what it could mean for them.
Following these eight tips will give you a great chance of communicating a successful global campaign. However, once you’ve carried out your first phase of communications, this isn’t the end – it’s only the beginning.
Our aim at this point should be inspiring conversation. We want people to engage with communications and talk of their experiences or ask questions. If your end goal is to generate discussions – as opposed to purely focusing on take up rates – then take up rates will take care of themselves as share plans will become part of your company’s DNA.
This works far better than taking a top-down approach to campaigns whereby we simply deliver information, thinking an email or presentation will win hearts and minds. Share plans aren’t short-term initiatives and neither is developing a culture of share ownership, so find ways to keep the conversation going for the long-term.
If you’d love to refresh your approach to communicating employee share plans, Eximia can create tailor made campaigns that inspire conversations and drive greater engagement for your business. Get in touch today so we can explore your current challenges and how we could help.