Challenge the Process: get your Q&A right

Here are five tips for making your share plan Q&A work for your colleagues – and for you!

You’re launching a share plan and making a list of everything you’ll need to get your employees on board. Posters, a welcome brochure, maybe a cool animation to bring the benefits to life.

And there’s another important asset you’ll want to add to your list too: a question and answer document. It’s not the most glamorous, but is arguably the most important item. At their best, Q&As reduce the number of questions that come in through the share plan mailbox, reducing the pressure on share plan teams.

A well-structured Q&A lets employees digest complex information about employee ownership at their own speed. There’s all the information of your plan rules, with none of the jargon. They’re a vital source of information for your local managers and reward teams. They also allow you to explain the complexities of your share plan in one handy place, freeing up your other communications assets to create the buzz.

But you can’t simply stuff your Q&A full of the technicalities and hope for the best! There’s an art to structuring it in a way that guides your colleagues from the start of your plan to the end, and bringing to life the full picture: why your plan is launching, what they can expect throughout their shareholder journey, and a clear idea of all the benefits (and risks) involved.

Here are a few of our top tips to get you started:

1Start with structure

Ordering your Q&A around the share plan itself is normally straightforward – you’ll want to cover how to join the plan, what happens during the savings period and plan maturity. But if your Q&A document is going to work hard, there’s lots more to consider.

When we’re creating Q&As for our clients, we always start with the ‘why’ – reminding people that the plan is about rewarding them for the success they help generate. Then there are questions to include around tax implications, potential risks, and what happens if people leave the company after they join. When you start to break it down like this, you realise there’s a lot to cover.

2Answer everything (and we mean everything!)

Your Q&A document should leave no stone unturned. It should answer every question an employee might have – especially as the Q&A is one of the key documents they’ll be reading before making a decision about whether to join a plan. You want it to empower people to make the right decision for them, and that means helping them to understand all the facts.

Don’t assume that people know what dividends are, or how matching shares work – it all needs to be explained concisely and jargon-free.

3Think about format

The last thing you want is to spend ages crafting your Q&A, only to have no one read them because you’ve presented them as 25 pages of densely packed text. Format is key to engagement, so this is your opportunity to get creative.

If you’re hosting your Q&A on a microsite, use clear drop-down headings so that people can navigate topics easily. If you’re creating a PDF, make the online version interactive so that readers can click hyperlinks and menu tabs to search for information.

Bring in some visuals: timelines to highlight key dates and milestones, or colourful tables to display statistics and figures. These small but thoughtful additions will engage your audience and bring your Q&A to life.

4Don’t avoid duplication

Yes, you read that right. You may think that in such a long document, the last thing you want to do is start repeating yourself, but the opposite is true. That’s because most people aren’t going to read your Q&A from cover to cover.

People generally dip in and out of Q&As, looking specifically for the questions they have on their mind. So you need to have all the information relevant to the question they’re looking at – even if it’s a duplicate of what you’ve written 5 questions ago. This will help them see the full picture, and get the complete answer to they’re looking for.

5End with a glossary

Your Q&A is the place to get into the nuts and bolts of your share plan and how it works, using language familiar to your colleagues. But although you’ve removed the jargon from your communications, your colleagues will still come across it in the share plan rules, and as they go through their journey to share ownership.

So even though your Q&A explains things like option prices, exercise periods and grant dates along the way, make sure you include a glossary at the end. This gives your colleagues one handy place to reference these terms and become familiar with them.

Need further guidance with your share plan Q&A? Get in touch, our copywriting service can save you time.

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