You run share plans; you've got a system, your administrator is smoothly managing operations, your legal eagles have their eyes peeled for changes in tax law and your company secretary is happy.
But what (and how) are you telling your employees about this fabulous benefit?
It’s simple isn’t it? Grab a few words from your plan rules (or cut and paste from last year), an image from marketing and ask IT to send out an email or get an agency to make you a lovely brochure and send it to home addresses. Then hope your employees click, read and understand.
But do they? Emails get forgotten, missed or deleted, junk mail gets binned, people go on holiday, have busy lives or simply don’t understand what you want them to do.
Effective communication is key to the success of any equity plan. Fail to get your message across and employees just switch off. Here are a few tips to help you tune up your communication.
The words you use and the way you talk about your share plan will go a long way to helping your employees to understand what it is and how it works. Remember, you’re the expert – not them. The words you use need to reflect this or they’ll be off making a cuppa in the time it takes to say merchant banker valuation.
Try getting someone ‘normal’ to read your words once they’ve been written.
Know your audience
Who are you talking to? Engineers, call centre agents, the chief exec? What’s happening in their lives will have an influence on what they need to hear from you – and the decision they make.
We know that you know your stuff; you sleep, breathe and eat share plans. But spare a thought for your readers – they will have a range of experience of share plans; from none, to some.
Focus on what they need to know to make their decision – not telling them everything you know about plans.
Choose your channels
Do you post payslips home, send round newsletters or does your MD regularly blog on your internal TV network? We’re lucky we’ve so many channels at our disposal these days. But it can cause confusion; should you use all of them (expensive?) or risk missing people if you only pick a couple?
Consider using a range of channels and let your employees choose. Try not to make assumptions – just because they don’t have a work PC doesn’t mean they don’t have access to the internet!
I know this goes against the grain in the highly regulated world of equity, but why not try some new creative ideas and use your imagination? Your employees are much more likely to sit up and take notice if the communication stands out.
Being creative in what you say and how you say it will make all your efforts with plan rules, tax, legal, and administration worthwhile.
Make it clear, accessible and engaging
Yes, it does mean asking lots of challenging questions and sometimes doing things a little differently. But if you really want your share plan to be heard over the noise of everything else, an effective communication campaign is the answer.