A survey revealed pre-school children ask ‘why?’ around 100 times a day – with questions that can often leave many heading straight for Google for the answer. As we get older, our need to know the ‘why’ doesn’t diminish. So, when we’re communicating with colleagues about the importance of having a share plan or a benefit in place, let’s not forget to include the ‘why’.
When we communicate, it can be easy to handle the factual parts of ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘how’, but in a world where we’re driven by emotion, let’s focus on the importance of ‘why’.
Today’s psychology lesson
As human beings, we’re far more likely to accept something, a change, for instance, if we understand the reason for it. Our acceptance of something seems to be less about how much we like the reason and more about how much sense the reason makes to us.
We like to have context, be able to connect the dots and make sense of things – which is why having a clear purpose behind something is so important – it satisfies our curious mind.
People communicating often overlook answering ‘why’ for three key reasons:
- They assume explaining what and how is the fastest way to influence their audience;
- It’s not always easy to articulate ‘why’ and certainly not from a diverse employee perspective; and
- They think the answer to why should be obvious for the audience to work out for themselves.
You’re launching an exciting internal initiative. It’s aligned with your company values. It’s an employee perk. And you’re confident that if your audience engages, you’ll get huge buy-in and take-up. You know precisely how to achieve it. You pour all your insights into a passionate presentation. You get a ripple of applause and then… disappointing engagement.
Sound familiar? You’ve committed energy into communicating, yet you’ve walked away disappointed by the lack of response from the very people whose lives will be improved if they would simply do ‘what’ you said ‘how’ you said to do it and ‘when’.
Applying this learning and embracing the ‘why’
Here are a few tips to help you get to the ‘why’ the next time you’re communicating about the importance of taking part in a share plan or employee benefit:
1. Articulate your why. The why has to be compelling to your colleagues, from their perspective and not the business case for having a benefit in place. The answer to why often lurks within our subconscious. You can coax it out by getting someone to ask you ‘so what’ until you can’t answer it anymore – this will get you to the root of ‘why’.
2. Join the dots. Connect the purpose of your share plan or benefit to company strategy and, where possible, its values. Allowing colleagues to see the bigger picture allows them to imagine possible future outcomes of taking action versus inaction.
3. Include clear explanations for taking action. Think about what action you’re asking your audience to take, and then follow it with “because”. For example, “We would like you to sign up to our pension scheme because we believe you’ll benefit from XYZ.” Whatever XYZ is, it will answer the question of “why”.
Answering ‘why’ is an act of empathy, and it adds a layer of persuasion to your communications. When people know why they’re being asked to do something, they’re much more likely to do it.
Taking a fresh look at your ‘why’
Give this a try because the alternative is unsatisfactory outcomes and a mis-use of time and resource. Worse still, you’re at risk of flipping the switch and your audience tuning out completely.
If you’d like to freshen up your overall approach to communicating employee share plans or benefits more broadly, get in touch with us as we love to get to the bottom of ‘why’, get creative with copywriting to inspire conversations that are meaningful and drive greater engagement for your business.