Communicating with your employees about their share plan is always critical. Once you have the plan rules designed, from your first announcement to the company, you need to make sure you're communicating the plan accurately and clearly. But the communications that keep your participants informed and up to date during the life cycle of the plan are the most important.
Most employee share plans span a long period of time, without much day-to-day action. The participant needs to remain focused and confident in the plan, so they don’t withdraw early – meaning they miss out on the payoff, and are left feeling underwhelmed, or worse, let down.
So, you need to make sure that you're keeping your participants informed – giving them the relevant information, and letting them know that their investment is still on track.
2020 has seen the world battered by constantly-changing headwinds. It seems like every day the news holds a new surprise – and not a good one. There are two main stories: health and the economy. The health news takes priority, of course, but the economic news can be troubling as well.
Many of your share plan participants probably have a lot of questions. Some of them are about the company – how are we doing? what does our future look like? – but many others might be about the share plan. (And there's a lot of overlap between the two.) Mainly, how does the stock market affect our share plan? should I withdraw from the plan? and is it still a good investment?
Your communication plan is incredibly important right now. So, now you might have questions, like how to make the most of your communications, and how to best reassure your participants. Especially now that your workforce is remote, and spread out among their homes. Well, we are here to help. Here are a few ideas to communicate a message of reassurance with your participants.
Centralize your message
Now, more than ever, it’s important to have a united front. This means that all departments need to be sending out the exact same message, no matter what they are communicating. If one department is hiring while another is tightening purse strings – you need to ensure that the reasons are communicated and followed up on.
And every department should be continuing to send out the same message about your employee share plan, and explaining how the current situation affects the plan and its benefits. Maybe set up a crisis communication team, with one member from each department on it. Before any department sends out a communication, it is run by the team to ensure it matches up with all other communications. (Try to keep this as small a team as possible, and with members who work well together, to ensure communication is still quick and efficient.) Make sure this team knows the exact situation with the share plan.
Keep the message simple and clear
There is a lot of confusing information in the world right now. So much, that it seems like every new piece of information contradicts the last piece. This leaves people feeling overwhelmed and helpless.
It’s up to you to ensure that your participants don’t feel this way from your communications. You have to demystify the process, and the decisions that you’re making. And you need to explain exactly why your employee share plan is still a great benefit and investment, in an extremely straightforward way.
Don’t quote market research or studies, and don’t drone on about unnecessary details. Just tell them exactly what they need to hear, in a way they can understand.
Update, update, update
As we’ve said, and you undoubtedly already realize, the analysis of the current situation is changing nearly every day. The forecasts of the future are in even more constant flux. So, you need to keep this in mind when you are communicating with your participants.
First of all, let them know that each communication is just a reflection of the situation at the moment – things can change quickly, and you will update them as soon as anything changes. And then, follow through on this.
If something large changes in the world, communicate what this means as quickly as possible. Even if it means that nothing has changed for your plan or your company, you need to let them know that. You don’t want to leave any room for guesswork or panic, and in an update vacuum, this is exactly what will happen.
Employee ownership strengthens companies, and helps them to weather a bleak forecast. At Global Shares, we've been around a long time and have seen a lot of economic paradigm shifts. If you're interested in finding out more about how to communicate to your participants, or you're looking for help on how to send one out, contact us today. And if you're interested in finding out more about employee ownership in general, click below to request a free demo.