Debra Clark, head of specialist consulting at Towergate Health & Protection makes a frank warning to employers: “If you do not engage with your staff, you will lose them.”
This is particularly important as the economy starts to reopen and people take stock of their working lives. The comment may seem stark following such difficult times during the pandemic, but Debra Clark is making an appraisal that will assist companies in retaining their employees and getting the most from them.
All employees have had their working lives affected by the pandemic in some way, be that working from home, being put on furlough, or having to change working practices to allow for social distancing. Now is the time to make sure they feel part of the fold again.
Feeling isolated in lockdown has not just affected those working alone from home. A sense of remoteness has crept into many people’s working lives, exacerbated by physical distancing.
“There is a real feeling of detachment among many employees at the moment,” explains Debra Clark. “Staff need to feel part of something again.”
It is not just about engaging with employees en masse, but doing so in a tailored way. Communication and delivery needs to differ and evolve depending on the individual targeted.
Utilising creative ways to engage employees has been particularly valued during lockdown and self-isolation. Technology, such as portals and apps can help provide an innovative way to keep in touch and this also provides an opportunity to personalise employee benefits that are offered to staff, which is a great way to remind employees what they are offered and increase engagement with a company.
Demonstrating how benefits are tangible also helps engage employees. Likewise, reminding staff about any benefits that support the four pillars of wellbeing – physical, mental, financial and social – and can be used regularly helps keep them front of mind.
It’s important to remember such benefits aren’t just for when a person makes a claim, but can be used whenever needed, even every day. For instance benefits that support fitness, access to 24/7 virtual GP, access to counselling, nutrition advice, rewards and discounts on groceries and white goods, legal guidance on minor disputes and everyday issues, even free coffees. Benefits that provide regular touch points for employees and help them in their daily lives, help them to feel valued by and connected to their company.
To help bring benefits to life, employers can:
- Make use of providers and advisers, and take up any offers to talk about the benefits.
- Use case studies: examples of how benefits work in practice, such as accessing care for serious illness, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, or screening.
- Show how easy benefits are to access, such as utilising helplines, making claims, or asking for more advice.
Breaching the transition
Employees are currently in a transitional phase. With a roadmap for easing lockdown, some will be thinking about returning to the office, others will want to continue to work from home. Others still will have remained in the workplace throughout but under very different conditions.
It’s important therefore that employers take all steps to engage with their workforce that may be more disparate at the moment. Utilising employee benefits is a great way to demonstrate that employees’ needs are understood, provide valuable support and build a sense of community.