We've witnessed a vast array of culinary delights in our clients’ canteen areas, varying from the Michelin starred variety (Iceland Foods head office), to the … less well thought out canteens, which I shouldn't like to name.
You may be asking why on earth we have been touring our clients' canteens. The reason? To announce new employee benefits and explain the detail to our clients’ employees - human to human. It’s a refreshingly traditional means of employee communication in this heady world of likes, follows, hashtags and YouTube videos, because regardless of how social media has blown up over these last 6 years, human to human interaction wins hands down for most people.
And with “Be Human” as one of our core company values, we’re strong believers in spreading the message person to person.
Employee roadshows are usually executed in one of two formats;
1. Seminar style sessions throughout the day in a meeting room for 30 minutes each. My first experience of one of these was being on a stage in a lecture theatre complete with lectern, spotlight, mic and what seemed like hundreds of people. Nerve-wracking - but at least I had everybody’s attention.
2. Pitching up hopefully in the corner of a canteen for a day and casually speaking to people one-on-one about what their new employee benefits offering is all about.
These days I keep my finger on the roadshow pulse vicariously through my client services team; and what I’m able to share with you out of all our experience is that canteen roadshows hardly ever work. In fact they can be quite the lead balloon for all involved if I’m honest.
I want other companies to benefit from the experience of the 48 canteen roadshows gone before them and to think twice before planning one.
I completely understand why the canteen is a tempting option to host a new employee benefits program launch, or even why it's deemed a perfect venue: space, footfall - most people will be venturing through its doors at some stage, and it doesn’t require any organisation on the company’s part. It’s little wonder it’s a popular choice.
Having thought about why these types of roadshow are often unsuccessful, I’ve deduced it’s because (quite simply) people are on their lunch break.
Employees don’t really want to spend their relaxing, food-chowing, gossipy, magazine-reading time being approached by shiny smiling folk they don't recognise, stood beside a big banner resembling some sort of insurance salesman set-up.
They really don't. And we often get the feeling that we're not the first and we won’t be the last representative from some scheme or other that’s been stood there. The best case scenario here is that some of them are open to giving us 5-10 minutes of their time. But how much are they going to get out of that? A mere snippet of the story - and that snippet might not be the bit that’s most relevant to them, resulting in a missed opportunity for them, you and us.
So… follow these simple guidelines if you think a roadshow will be great for your employee benefit scheme’s engagement, and you’ll get a great result:
Book us a nice meeting room for the day.
Set up several seminar sessions throughout the day to give people some options.
Communicate in advance, and put it into people’s diaries where possible.
Communicate again nearer the time as a reminder.
Put the onus on line managers to get their team to attend; ask why they failed to do so if they don’t.
Leave the rest to us.
We will enthusiastically and expertly demonstrate your employee benefits program via presentation and site demos. We can hand out informative communications, field questions, get people signed up, hand out discount cards, run a quiz and generally enthuse your people about their employee benefits platform - creating advocates that ultimately end up working for you!
Final words of advice…
Whatever you do, please don’t become a victim of FOOC. My newly coined acronym - Fear Of Over Communicating. Time after time we run into companies who literally have policies that completely clamp down on communicating to their employees. Please believe that employees want to hear about it. Of all your communications this is a good news message that’s possibly much needed, so shout it from the rooftop.
And don’t write it off as being ‘trivial’ in comparison to the serious pensions and insurance policies that you may also offer... *stifles a yawn*. What you as an employer might consider trivial, won’t be be to the people in the far-reaching corners of your business. Especially if it’s communicated to them right.