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Let me tell you a story… it’s about how we used storytelling at Reward Gateway to connect our people to our new employee wellbeing benefit, using the power of storytelling to ensure the benefit was not just understood, but shouted from the rooftops!
But before I get into telling the story, let me first explain the benefit, which we call the Wellbeing Choice benefit. The way it works is that each employee is given an annual wellbeing pot which they can use however and whenever they want to achieve their employee wellbeing goals – whether that’s a gym membership, the latest fitness tech, or something with a bit more imagination. All we ask is that they make a pledge of what state of wellbeing they want to achieve with their money.
When we first launched the new benefit we knew our employees would embrace it, but this level of choice and trust (the options were endless!) would also make it confusing to them. How could they decide what to use their wellbeing pot for?
Because of this we decided to ditch the traditional communication campaign, and go straight to storytelling, using it as a way to give our employees ideas and inspiration for using this new benefit.
We also opened a new avenue for storytelling with a teaser campaign to create excitement and momentum for the new employee benefit launch so we would have greater uptake from the get-go once the benefits window opened up.
Here’s how we did it:
First, we recruited “wellbeing warriors” around the world in each of our offices to help us design this benefit. Together we selected what we thought were going to be the most common wellbeing choices, making sure to select them from all categories of wellbeing, what we call our “wellbeing pillars” of physical, mental and financial. Each wellbeing warrior selected a few, and created stories and videos of how they’d done this activity or would do so in the future.
To broadcast the stories, we used our internal employee engagement platform, boom!, to create a daily countdown to the Wellbeing Choice launch and give each story its own soapbox to speak from. Using the scheduling features in our platform, we created a new homepage to automatically go live each day and reveal a new wellbeing story from one of our Warriors. The idea was that each day they’d learn a little bit more about the benefit, and by the final day they’d be all educated and excited to make their wellbeing choices. (You can read more about how we launched this benefit, with our internal communications manager on holiday, nonetheless, in a previous blog post.).
Thanks to our tales, we saw 88% of employees take up the benefit across the globe.
The following year, we had a lot of case studies which we could use to tell the story of how our people had been using their wellbeing pots. There were plenty of great things to shout about, with some using it to get into better physical shape, improve mental wellbeing through meditation, give up smoking or for using it for financial advice.
And me? Well, I used it to do something I had never dreamed of doing, aerial yoga. We had plenty of great stories that came out of the benefit, but one in particular won the award for “Most Unique Use of the Wellbeing Choice Benefit 2017!” And this is the story our Learning and Development Manager Zachery Wilkinson told his fellow RGers (We've copied the full text below in case you can't read the screen!)
"I used Wellbeing Choice to purchase a blacksmith forge. For the last three to four years, I have been getting into the trade, watching videos and reading as many books/articles as I could on the subject.
I had everything else I needed but the forge. So when the Wellbeing window opened, I took a chance on it!
I felt like it wouldn't get approved seeing as it's a pretty random request but I framed it from the perspective that it will allow me to be creative, release the stress of the day because I get to pound and shape metal and it's also quite a workout!
It got approved and I couldn't have been happier. Wellbeing Choice is not just about exercise equipment or exercise classes, it can be so much more.
In the end, it's all about what is going to enhance your well-being and make you a happier person and as a result, a more engaged and effective employee. One of the many reasons why I love Reward Gateway."
The key to a powerful story is to make it resonate with the reader. Granted, I’m no J.K. Rowling, but what I can do is look at the workforce I’m trying to engage and speak to them in a language which I know they’ll understand, content they’ll relate to, and stories and images that will make them want to turn the page... or in our case, click on the next wellbeing door.
Stories give our employees something personal to connect with, and have the power to bring your employee benefits to life. The key is knowing your audience well and telling the stories which will illustrate benefits in a real and relatable way.
I’d love to hear how you turned a corner on benefits uptake with a good story. Leave it in the comments!
Debra is the co-author of "Build It: The Rebel Playbook for Employee Engagement," which she wrote with Reward Gateway Founder, Glenn Elliott. She's a Rewards guru, having over 20 years experience as a rewards leader, speaker, teacher and a frequent contributor to the Reward Gateway blog.
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