Implementing a financial wellness program: Develop a communication plan
GO with Eckler: Engaging insights about financial wellness in the workplace
Those who specialize in designing communication strategies for the workplace are frequently asked the same question: “What is ‘effective’ communication?” The answer is fairly simple: effective communication means that your ideas and concepts are being heard and people are acting upon them. Achieving effective communication in the workplace is a little less simple, but the good news is, there are several best practices to help you get there.
We will explore a few best practices to help you succeed at number four in our five-step plan for implementing a successful financial wellness program in your workplace.
5 steps to implement a successful financial wellness program
- Get buy-in from senior executives
- Find a third-party provider
- Build the program
- Develop a comprehensive communication plan
- Measure and assess
Start at the top
Successful communication must start with engaged leadership and key influencers. Workplace leaders have the power to both engage and inspire. When launching the program, leaders should explain why the company is offering the program, the benefits of the program, details on timing, and provide an opportunity to give feedback and ask questions. Communication should also be delivered by key influencers like Human Resources and people managers before, during, and after education sessions to reinforce key messages and maintain engagement.
Above all else, the communication should be concise, clear, and honest. Your employees do not want jargon, mixed messages or vague promises. If they cannot understand what you are communicating or, even worse, do not believe it, you are not communicating effectively.
Start by surveying your employees. Ask questions about what is keeping them up at night (budgeting, cashflow, retirement) and how they like to learn (in-person, online, independently). Only if the program addresses your employees’ concerns will they engage and get what they need from it – and your organization will see a return on the investment.
When leaders connect with employees through meaningful communication that lets them know they are valued, provides line of sight on company objectives, and opportunity for real input, it has an enormous impact on employee engagement and behaviour.
Make it resonate
The old axiom that managing the message is as important as the message itself, has never been truer. We are bombarded with communication – text messages, chat messages, emails, social media, video/audio conferences. It can be overwhelming and many of us have learned to quiet the noise by tuning it out.
Our tendency to tune out can present a significant challenge when it comes to workplace communication. Add to that the fact that many employees continue to work remotely, and communication preferences can vary among your employee demographic, communicating effectively can seem downright impossible.
Making sure your communication resonates with your employees is critical. Targeted communication that represents your employee demographics lets them know that you understand they are not one and the same as their colleagues – and is a highly effective way to get their attention. After all, we all like to feel understood. Mixing it up with varying (but aligned) messages across various formats can also significantly improve employee understanding and engagement.
Whether emails, blogs, videos, or signage in the employee cafeteria, working with a professional communicator can also help ensure that you are developing and delivering targeted and effective communication that works for your employees – and your organization.
Words matter but much of how we perceive information is visual. That is why organizations spend considerable amounts of money and expend numerous internal resources on developing a brand that will engage their buyers. The same effort should be given to how you communicate with your employees.
A powerful brand not only provides a visual representation but also amplifies your messages and conveys value to employees. Whether you create a distinct brand for your financial wellness program or use existing company branding, the benefits – and the goals – remain the same:
- generate a positive response
- unify communication materials
- promote consistent messaging
- help members access key information quickly
Effective employee communication is about more than simply delivering information. Done well, communication can both educate and inspire employees to take a more active role in their personal financial well-being. Working with a third-party educator or communications consultant can help you develop a comprehensive strategy that delivers the right messages – through the right channels at the right times – to maximize employee engagement and program success.
In the case study below, we will show you how we implemented some of these best practices at a large organization in the forestry sector.
Large organization in the forestry sector.
Large organization in the forestry sector
- To roll out a comprehensive multi-year financial wellness program for more than 1,100 salaried workers with a range of personal financial acumen, who are in different career and life stages and have different pension benefits.
What we did
- In collaboration with the client, designed a three-year program.
- Crafted an inclusive and informative launch communication that explained the program, who the program is for, what the objectives of the program are, what topics to expect and when they will be delivered.
- Created a distinct brand for all program materials that allowed employees to quickly identify content and messages on financial wellness.
- Created a series of personas (archetypical users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users) to connect program messages and content to employees in a way that is relevant to them based on their stage of life and career, level of savings and readiness for retirement.
- Engaged leadership is critical to the success of the program. Leadership within the client organization was fully on board and committed from the beginning and was a significant contributing factor to the success of the program.
- Employee feedback is important for employee engagement and continual improvement. This client provided opportunity for feedback throughout and adjusted as needed.
- Partnering both with internal teams and an unbiased, expert provider ensures not just external expertise but provides support to internal teams and offers credibility to the program users.
- All program content is contained in a financial wellness hub on the organization’s intranet so employees know where to go to access it.
- The client reported an 18% increase in participation in the voluntary group savings plan.
- On average, over 100 employees attended each financial wellness webinar in the first two years, and approximately 100 employees read each article.
- Program messages and announcements delivered via email have a 100% open rate.
The client’s program success was recognized at
Benefits Canada’s 2021 Workplace Benefits Awards, winning in the Financial Wellness category.
- The program is expanding next year to include over 3,000 hourly employees.
GO with Eckler is a quarterly newsletter to help employers and plan sponsors support financial wellness for their employees and plan members. Please contact your Eckler consultant if you want to learn more about supporting financial wellness in your workplace.