Social media has wide uses for employee benefits, but employers are just starting to realise its value as an engagement and communication channel. But there are several top tips to consider for harnessing its power:

1. Use internal networks

There are a range of enterprise social networks (ESNs) being used internally within businesses, such as Yammer, Slack and Jive. Facebook At Work is also currently being trialled. These allow employers and staff to build networks and groups, as well as make and comment on posts in a work context.

Organisations are less likely to use public-facing channels, such as Facebook or Twitter, to communicate with staff. These are generally reserved for consumer communications. Andrew Drake, head of flexible benefits at JLT Employee Benefits, says:

I am yet to see [any employer] put anything about their employee benefits on Twitter or Facebook. The fear is when [employers] put something on [external] social media, [they] are opening themselves up to the eyes of the world.

But there are still uses for these external channels. Capita Employee Benefits is exploring a Twitter, Facebook and YouTube campaign to drive awareness of teacher pensions , for example.

2. Decide on a clear purpose behind communications

Social media will not necessarily work well for all types of benefits or messages that employers want to distribute, so it is important that they create a clear strategy and purpose behind their communications.

Lesley Alexander, managing director at communications consultancy Ferrier Pearce, has seen some hesitancy towards social media, particularly among pension trustees. “It is partly about resourcing and having enough people to respond to comments,” she says.

However, she encourages and sees the potential. “It could work well when benefits are changing, [employers] are introducing new benefits, the flexible benefits window is open, [and so on]. It gives immediacy and is another way of getting messages out.”

Getting employees involved with the communications strategy can help with its success. Chris Copland, director at Better Working, says that social media could be used to drive benefits engagement. “[Employers] can get [staff] to share photos or film of themselves experiencing [an employee benefit] to bring it to life or they could have a poll around benefits.”

3. Be prepared to receive feedback

Employers should also ensure that any benefits available are good quality, says JLT’s Drake.

 [Employers] need to put an even greater focus on the quality of the benefits because people could voice their dissatisfaction using social media,

he explains.

Word of mouth is bad enough, but when someone has the audience of Twitter that is magnified. Even on an internal network, [employees] have been given a bigger audience than they had just whinging to the person next to them.

Louise Harris, head of client communications at Capita Employee Benefits, adds that doing due diligence and thinking about this scenario is vital she says.

What [employers] are creating is a two-way communication and it is really important to listen to what employees say, even if it is negative

4. Future benefits communication

Social media could also impact benefits communication in the future, says Jonny Gifford, research adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

One of the big potentials for social media and HR is to profile people. So a single 20-year-old might get a banner come up about cinema vouchers rather than childcare vouchers,” he explains. ”The thing that is holding that back is not the technology; it is whether it is too much of a big-brother thing. It is not clear yet how acceptable that is in an employee/employer relationship.

Besides ESNs and external-facing social media, there are also reward and recognition apps with a social media element within them, such as being able to give a colleague a virtual pat on the back for other users to see.

“Something like that might be a good way to test social media,” says JLT’s Drake. ”It might get people used to the idea of sharing among the population.”

Now could be the time for employers to look into using ESNs or such apps for their reward and benefits function. “If [employers] are not exploring all channels, then [they] might not be getting the benefit from the benefits,” says Ferrier Pearce’s Alexander. “We have four generations in the workplace now and [they] could potentially exclude a proportion of the workforce.”

Above all, employers should keep relevant in order to increase employee engagement with benefits. “Don’t be scared of social media; embrace it and take it one step at a time,” says Capita’s Harris. “Don’t ignore it because it won’t go away, but it can be a very cost-effective way of opening up a communication channel.”

Taken from an article published 23 September 2015 | By Vicki Arnstein on employeebenefits.co.uk

Petaurum Solutions Comment

A set of simple tools and techniques, which will help harness the potential of Social Media, when positioning and promoting employee benefits. As the tips suggest, having a way of both communicating to and receiving feedback from employees will play a key role in how employees adopt your benefits and ultimately how they value them. If you are interested in either launching an Employee Benefits Scheme in your business or looking at ways to develop your existing Scheme, then talk to us as we have a range of solutions to fit your needs.

This information is intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with. The information provided here was accurate as of the day it was posted; however, the law may have changed since that date. This information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for taking legal, HR or benefits advice in any specific situation. Petaurum Solutions is not responsible for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this information. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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