29 April 2021

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How reward technology can help shape benefits for a changing organisation

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou, American poet, memoirist and civil rights activist.

When organisations go through any form of change, it’s inevitable that your employees will be faced with a myriad of different emotions. Nervousness. Excitement. Anxiety. Caution. Joy. Anger. Distrust. Anticipation. Sadness. And it doesn’t matter whether the change is big or small – a new working environment, a promotion, new working hours, new team, new manager, redundancy, change in benefit entitlement, new benefit, a change in terms and conditions – the uncertainties and expectations around the unknown remain.

Where those feelings are positive, you’ll want to reinforce them. Where negative, you’ll want to address them. How you utilise technology can be a major catalyst for the former and a significant obstacle for the latter.

The purpose of reward technology

When you think about your HR and reward technology and what it delivers, how often do you put yourselves in the shoes of the people in your business? Or do you simply think about a list of features and functions that sit under a ‘must have’ section in a request for proposal (RFP)?

Let’s consider an employee who’s been with for your business for three years. Their own personal circumstances have changed in that time; they’ve started a family so now have more than just themselves to think about. They’ve also got a mortgage which they didn’t have when they started working for you.

And let’s say you’ve removed that Dependents’ Death in Service Pension and replaced with something much more relevant to your demographic.

What is that employee feeling? Maybe distrust because there’s a lack of understanding with what that benefit was anyway. Perhaps confusion due to not understanding what it’s being replaced with. Maybe even excitement that at long last this very archaic and inflexible benefit is finally being replaced by something more useful for the here and now.

And then there’s how you deal with communicating and implementing it.

You could send out paper forms with reams of text explaining what’s changed and why, complete with some technical jargon thrown in for good measure, to confuse the matter even more. You could also invite the employee to make changes to their benefits on an outdated and no longer fit-for-purpose platform that achieves the end result, but does nothing to positively influence the employee’s emotional outcome. They end up feeling frustrated, anxious and the opposite of what you wanted to achieve.

But if you want to positively influence how the employee feels about the change – or indeed any change – effective utilisation of technology and targeting is key. If the technology is difficult to access, immediately a barrier exists; single sign on has now become a baseline expectation to remove this. Once an individual is logged in, simple and effective signposting to information removes anxiety and frustration. Where a decision or transaction is required, it should be a seamless process, with minimal steps needed to reach the desired end result. Nobody likes leaving an online interaction, unsure if all steps required have been completed and the nagging doubt that something has been done incorrectly. Uncertainty and confusion are already natural responses to change; the last thing you want to do is perpetuate these through a bad technology experience.

If it’s done in the right way, your employees can be left impressed by the simple and barrier-free access, confident as a result of effective signposting to the right information and excited by the new benefits package they’ve been able to choose.

Compliment technology with effective communications

As is always the case, you need a combination of intuitive, easy to use systems working hand in hand with communications that recognise the need to tap into the emotions of people. Personalised, transparent, and timely communications should drive your employees towards technology. They should offer a simple, well-informed decision-making experience, which will leave them remembering how they felt long after what you said and did are forgotten.

Features and functions in products are important. But when you let your people loose on your reward and benefits technology, how it makes them feel is far more important than what you say or what they can do after logging in.

So, if like many other businesses, you’re going through change as a result of the pandemic (or for any other reason), remember those wise words of Maya Angelou, and use technology in a way that truly influences how your people feel about your business. Your organisation will feel the difference long into the future.

The author is Andrew Drake, client development at Buck.

First, Concert Consulting became Concert, a Buck company.

Now, we’ve expanded, welcoming Caburn Hope into the Buck family.

The addition of Caburn Hope complements and amplifies our current capabilities by strengthening our employee communications offering.

Better together.