6 min read
A key responsibility for an HR professional is to come up with a plan, or a roadmap, on how best to sequence the rollout and communication of benefit programs. Whether it's for new or existing benefits, sequencing your benefits program rollout is critical to ensure they are seen and/or heard, actioned and ultimately have the required impact.
The way I like to think of this isn’t with a boring spreadsheet or over analyzing a project management tool (though both have their place!).
Rather, I treat my benefits program rollout as a playlist - the same way I put together playlists for my workout or chillout sessions.
In both applications, order is essential. But what else makes for a good (benefits) playlist? Here are some tips to help you:
Define your ‘mood’
When you create a music playlist you start by deciding what mood you want to feel when listening to it. Do you want to feel relaxed, happy, sad, or something else entirely? The same is true with your benefits ‘playlist’, as you should ask yourself - how do I want my employees to feel at the end?
An example is a playlist I’m creating at Reward Gateway with the rollout of our four new global benefits. The objective or ‘mood’ is that we want our employees to understand and value these new benefits and believe that along with our other benefits are ‘amazing.’ We keep this in mind in everything we do, and make sure that this is the mood that is created at each step.
Tip: Make sure that you consider and agree the ‘mood’ desired in your benefits campaign. This answers the question why (why are you doing it) and what (what effect do I want it to have on my employees)?
Next, create your master list
After deciding your mood, the next thing to do is to create your master list of songs, or in our case, our benefit programs. This could be limited to your new or changed benefits, or based on your desired mood, could include others. Whatever is selected should fit with the mood or theme of your playlist, with each ‘song’ having a purpose and adding something meaningful to your benefits rollout.
For Reward Gateway, we wanted our employees to feel amazing. So just four benefits for our rollout wouldn’t do. We added a few more songs (benefits) for the maximum impact.
Tip: Select the ‘songs’ (benefits) you include in your campaign carefully - asking yourself whether individually and together they support the overall mood and add value to the playlist.
Decide your order
The last step is to decide the order of your ‘songs’, which for us is to decide how best to sequence the rollout of your benefit programs. Do you roll them all out at the same time, over a few months, a year, etc.? If I have good news and bad news, do I deliver them at the same time or one before the other? This is absolutely critical, and an area which many people overlook and/or neglect. Here are a few things to consider:
- Do you want one or more benefits to stand out or be the ‘stars’? Take a look at your benefits, and decide if there are any that you want to stand out more than the others. This could be because you believe it is the most important, will have the most impact, or possibly that it is the most confusing, so needs more attention. Decide this upfront so that you can give it the emphasis and positioning on your communications platform that it requires.
For our ‘amazing’ campaign our stars are our four new benefits, with the others acting as supporting characters. They have an important part to play, but our energy and focus are making sure that employees see how amazing these new benefits are, and remind them of how amazing the others are as well.
- What overall ‘rhythm’ do you want? Following on from the previous point, it’s also important to decide the overall rhythm of your benefits playlist. Do I want to have a steady communication campaign, so every month I communicate a new benefit? Do I create big quarterly messages and roll some of them together? Plan upfront your approach, and sequence your benefits to fit within this.
- How much can my employees handle at the same time? You wouldn’t play more than one song at a time, so often it doesn’t make sense to communicate more than one benefit at a time. If you do this the messages may get muddled and/or you may lose the impact of one over the other.
However, there are times when we have no choice, and we have to communicate more than one benefit at the same time. For example in my global ‘amazing’ campaign because of payroll cutoffs I have to launch two new benefits at the same time so that employees can sign up by the payroll cutoff.
What we’ve done is break out the communication campaigns within the month, communicating one for the first two weeks and the other for the second two weeks with dedicated messages on our internal communications portal boom! To create daily buzz around the benefits with a “behind the door” theme (more on this in an upcoming post!). We’ll then bring them together in a message before the payroll cutoff so that the deadline is not missed, but each will have their own time to shine under the spotlight.
- How will the impact of one have on the impact on another?
As mentioned previously, another challenge when deciding the order is how to sequence when delivering both good and bad news. For this I have to be honest and say that there is no right or wrong answer, as it depends on exactly what is changing.
For example, at a previous organisation we had decided to remove a benefit (double pay on Sundays) and at the same time had decided to launch a new benefit. They were independent decisions (e.g. we didn’t add the benefit to compensate for the loss in pay), but since we decided to ‘play’ them at the same time, they were forever linked. Bad decision, we should have sequenced them, thus creating a space between the good and bad news.
I learned from this recently during the ‘amazing’ campaign I previously mentioned. We had bad news, which was reducing a benefit. So we announced that reduction before our launch of the ‘amazing’ campaign. By doing this we had the time and space to explain to our employees why the change was happening, our new strategy, and then finally the results of our new strategic approach.
Tip: Consider and address the order of your ‘songs.' Sequence them in a way so that they individually and collectively achieve your desired goals.
The result? A planned, impactful benefits rollout that has the office humming a new tune.