How to make your share plan accessible and meaningful to employees

Launching a share plan – from design to administration – is a big task. To get the best value from all that time, budget and effort, colleagues need to engage with it and value it.

But with plenty of other demands on their attention, getting to grips with the new share plan is unlikely to be top of their to-do list. And with plenty of other demands on their finances, they need to understand how your share plan fits in with their needs and ambitions.

That’s why we have to be clever about how we communicate our share plans. It is for us to make our share plans both accessible and meaningful.

Communication is key to making share plans accessible.

Even the best share plans need to be well communicated. If people don’t know or understand what’s available, they won’t enrol.

Maximise engagement with your share plan by communicating with colleagues before, during and after the enrolment. Keep them informed throughout the lifecycle of the plan. Regular communication builds trust and engagement and encourages employees to stay committed to the plan.

Here are our tips to help you create share plan communications that make everyone feel included

1 Lose the complexity

Make sure all your communications use simple and straightforward language that everyone can understand. Avoid complicated terms, jargon and abbreviations, as that could confuse or intimidate colleagues.

If you’re using Microsoft Word to write your content, the Accessibility function will help with ways to make your content easier for your colleagues to read.

2 Be creative

There’s truth in the old adage ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’. Our brains process images much more easily than text. (We’ve written about this before.)

From infographics to animated videos, make visuals a key element of your share plan communications. Keep it accessible and inclusive by adding subtitles to your video and metadata to your pictures.

3 Keep it real

We’re social creatures, and we respond best to other humans. We want to know what their experiences are, and use that as part of our decision-making process. That’s why online reviews are so important to many businesses.

Leverage that by including real-life examples from colleagues who have previously joined share plans in your communication mix. It will help people understand the value of your share plan, and how it can work for them.

4 Variety is the spice of comms life

We’re all different. Not everyone works in front of a computer, not everyone learns the same way. That’s why your share plan communications should include a variety of communication channels. It’ll help you reach more colleagues in a way that engages them.

Consider using a mix of email, intranet, posters, videos, and hard copy materials for offline colleagues, so that everyone receives your message.

5 Questions and answers

Share plans are complex. Your colleagues are likely to have a lot of questions, about what it means, how it works and the impact it’ll have on them. It’s important they can understand what’s on offer, or they won’t engage with it.

Take the time to clarify points of confusion or ease concerns. Hold Q&A sessions to address questions and provide information that can be accessed on demand. Signpost to it in all your communications.

6 Stay relevant

Your share plan should appeal to all eligible employees, and a lot of that comes from how you communicate it. This means using communications that works for your colleagues: provide the right content, at the right time, in the right place.

To know what works well (and what works less well), include regular feedback cycles to hear what your colleagues think. This will be a huge help as you review and update your share plan communication strategy.

Making your share plan meaningful

With the tough economic climate, many of us need reassurance before making a financial commitment of any size. Your colleagues will be looking at their finances holistically, considering bills, loans, rent and childcare.

Maximise take-up by showing them how your share plan fits in with their overall financial wellbeing and resilience.

Here are some of our top tips to make your share plan more meaningful

1 Emphasise the long-term benefits

Highlight the long-term benefits of the scheme, such as the opportunity to build wealth over time and the potential return on investment. Show your colleagues that your share plan is an investment in their future, complementing short-term and long-term plans.

Help them visualise what it looks like for them by introducing tools such as online calculators, so they can see what their contributions might look like in the future.

2 Highlight flexible or low-cost investment options

With people counting every penny in their budget, the idea of investing in a share plan might seem out of reach. Show that it’s attainable by emphasising the lower limits, and any flexibility features such as payment holidays. This will appeal to colleagues who need to control deductions, especially those in the lower salary brackets.

Personalise your communications. Show colleagues what their personal limit is if it’s based on a percentage of salary or previous participation. If it’s going to give them a tax saving, make sure you include that too.

3 Provide education and support

Money and finance are complex. Many of us need support and guidance as we make financial and investment decisions. You can’t give financial advice, but you can still help colleagues understand your share plan, so they have the knowledge to choose what is right for them.

Offer education and support to eligible employees. Consider holding workshops or creating online resources that enable colleagues to learn about share plans, the stock market and the wider financial context – and how it applies to them. You might even consider providing access to an independent financial adviser.

Want to create a buzz around your share plan launch to truly include and benefit all your colleagues? Reach out to learn how we can make your share plan communications accessible and meaningful. Together, we can help your employees build a brighter financial future.

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