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Employee Benefits

Steps Employers Should Take To Connect With The Workforce Through Reward And Benefits Strategy

Thursday, 12 November 2020

By Andrew Woolnough, Director, EQ HR Solutions.

APRIL 2021 Andrew Woolnough Director, EQ HR Solutions

How well do you know your employees? You might know where they work – at least under normal circumstances – and what they do during office hours; but how much do you know about them personally? For many employers, the answer is: not much. And that makes designing a benefits programme and communications strategy that resonates with the entire workforce a very tough call – particularly in the current situation.

Why is inclusivity and rational understanding of benefits’ relevance important? Because that will support wider workforce engagement strategy. And with that comes motivation and collaboration.

Collaborative challenges and Covid-19

With remote working at an all-time high, and Zoom fatigue setting in as Covid-19 restrictions tighten once more, creating connections between the different parts of your workforce is more important – and more complicated – than ever.

There’s little doubt that higher levels of cooperation equal better performance. According to one Stanford University study, people who feel they are working together will stick to a challenging task up to 64 per cent longer than those going it alone, while also reporting higher engagement levels, less fatigue, and better success rates.

But how can you achieve inter-departmental collaboration when your people haven’t even seen the colleagues they work with - in the flesh at least - for months?

Effective benefits programmes and communications are two of the most powerful devices at your disposal, especially now.


Recent research from consultant PwC shows that 90 per cent of UK CEOs are conducting employee wellbeing initiatives in response to Covid-19, with 23 per cent expecting doing so to have “the biggest positive impact on their organisation’s long-term reputation.”

Yet just 43 per cent of employers have a benefits strategy in place – even though 99 per cent want to engage employees with their benefits schemes, Aon’s latest UK benefits survey found.

And fewer still make the effort to understand what makes their employees tick on a personal level.

Engagement: the key to company-wide cohesion

To create a truly inclusive and cohesive reward and benefits programme, you need to both understand your employees and align their personal values with the organisation’s culture.

The good news is that, as with so many aspects of benefits provision, engagement is the key to achieving both objectives; if you can offer advantages that resonate with people on an individual level, they will come together naturally.

However, simply breaking your workforce down by age group or level of seniority is not enough to achieve this. Take financial wellbeing. With 71 per cent of Britons worried about being able to pay their rent, mortgage, or utility bills due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its relevance is undeniable. 

But you can’t just assume an older worker wants retirement planning advice, or a younger employee doesn’t. 

Whether you’re trying to engage with a 23-year-old trainee accountant or a 55-year-old project leader, there’s little point inviting them to an investment webinar if mounting unsecured debt is their most pressing concern.

Communications about such events could even increase their anxiety levels when what they really need is access to debt management advice, or discounts that can help to ease the strain. 

Attaining the level of understanding required to avoid such mistakes is hard – especially as many employees feel uncomfortable admitting personal problems such as debt in the workplace.

Ensuring bespoke benefit communication in this way – the right messages to the right people at the right time and place – will set you on the road to better engagement and all the good things that come with that: not only in terms of delivering a valued reward programme, but also with regard to teamwork and motivation.

*This article was written for, and features in REBA, October 2020.