November 24 2022

How to launch a new staff benefit: The ultimate guide

Knowing how to launch a new staff benefit can be daunting. Employee benefits are a key part of your organisation’s compensation package, and what’s included has a significant impact on your ability to hire, retain, and engage employees. We’ve compiled the ultimate guide on how to launch a new benefit, so you and your employees can reap the rewards.

Selecting an employee benefit provider is just the beginning 

It’s a situation familiar to thousands of HR professionals. 

You spend ages choosing a new benefit, assessing multiple providers, and working with stakeholders to get it approved. Finally, the contract gets signed.  

You put together a load of information about the benefit and share it with your employees. And then.…..nothing. Zilch. An eerie silence fills your inbox. 

Putting benefits in place is one challenge, but ensuring employees engage with them is a whole new minefield.

Why don’t employees engage with benefits?

Given all the hard work that HR teams put into offering a new employee benefit, it can be incredibly frustrating when it seemingly goes unnoticed. 

So what’s preventing employees from engaging? 

Lack of awareness around benefits 

The reason could be that employees don’t know about the employee benefits that are available to them.

If they do know about them, they might not understand how the scheme works. This can make them reluctant to take advantage. 

If you offer innovative perks like work from anywhere or unlimited annual leave, for example, employees might have unanswered questions that prevent them from taking action.

Some benefits incur a cost to an organisation even if employees don’t make use of them. So it’s vital to ensure that the benefit you choose is used by as many employees as possible. 

What’s on offer doesn’t resonate with employees

Today’s workforce is a mix of boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z. That means that the needs and wants of employees range hugely, given the different stages of life they’re at.

This can make it hard to create a benefits package that appeals to everyone. Many of the top companies have opted for flexible benefit schemes that give employees more choice over their benefits. 

Ben and Perkbox are examples of flexible employee benefits platforms that allow for greater personalisation of benefits. 

How to launch a new benefit starts with planning

If you’re unsure how to prepare to roll out a new employee benefit, then here are some pointers to help you.

1. Lay the groundwork

Start by introducing the benefit to employees before the official launch date. 

Make people aware of the benefit that will soon be available by clearly communicating what it is and how it’s useful to them. 

Giving them bite-size pieces of information over time can make the information easy to digest, and gives employees multiple opportunities to learn about it. 

By laying the groundwork, you create an early buzz around the launch, so employees are already interested before the benefit is even available.

Teaser campaigns can be super useful and they don’t have to be complex. A simple graphic posted on Teams can be enough to spark someone’s interest. 

In a nutshell, rolling out a benefit slowly can increase engagement by making the process more effortless for employees. Absorbing a few details over time is much easier than being bombarded with a barrage of information and being expected to take it all in. 

2. Remove friction around activating the new benefit 

Ease of access is imperative for the success of a new benefit. So before launching, be sure that the new benefit is easy for employees to activate and use.

For instance, can they enrol on the scheme online at a time that suits them? Is the signup process straightforward with plenty of additional information if employees have queries? 

3. Plan how to measure its success

Having a clear idea of what success will look like when it comes to the new benefit will make it easier to evaluate the ROI.

For example, is the objective to decrease staff turnover in a particular sector of the business within six months? Being very specific about your goals makes it far easier to measure success once the benefit is active. 

Knowing what you want to measure is just as important as how you’re going to measure it. Some employee benefits have built-in platforms that your HR team can use to monitor data, such as whether employees are using the benefit and how they’re using it. 

4. Work together with all stakeholders 

There are usually many stakeholders in an organisation when it comes to launching a new employee benefit. 

Communicating with those affected and the leadership team ensures they understand the benefit and why it’s important to the business’s goals and to staff. It’s also a chance to discuss everyone’s role in implementing and managing the new benefit. 

Don’t underestimate the importance of having all relevant teams involved from an early stage. HR, payroll, Finance and even IT teams will need to know the ins and outs of the new benefit. 

By ensuring everyone is properly briefed on the new benefit, it means that when employees do ask questions, everyone gives the same answers, creating an environment of trust and certainty. 

5. Time your launch correctly

Carefully consider when to launch your new benefit. What else is happening in the business at the same time? Is there a ‘quiet’ time when employees are likely to have more time to delve into the details? 

This is especially true for particular benefits that coincide with your financial year, or with other specific dates in the year. Be sure to plan your launch with plenty of time to avoid a last-minute scramble that can discredit your efforts. 

If you set yourself a target launch date, you can then plan towards it by setting deadlines for the tasks that need to be completed before the launch.

6. Choose your communications carefully

It’s a good idea to think well-ahead about how you’ll present the benefit to employees.

While an email with an attachment is pretty standard, it’s not necessarily the best way to engage employees. 

In general, a multi-channel approach works best when communicating a new staff benefit. But consider different formats too that convey information clearly.

You could consider sharing videos, using graphics (often your benefits provider can supply materials), or even games to bring your new benefit to life.

Question and answer sessions are a great way to open the conversation. If you have office-based employees, consider a lunchtime drop in session or having an information stand in a prominent place. 

7. Focus on what employees stand to gain from the new benefit

Consider how you can demonstrate the relevance of your new benefit to people’s lives with real-life examples. Make sure they’ll leave with a clear understanding of the advantages for them and how to take action.

Benefits that aren’t relevant to someone’s specific circumstances won’t get that person’s attention. Speak in terms of your employees’ concerns and needs, and you’re more likely to get them interested.

8. Consider takeaway information

Prepare handouts so people can digest information in their own time. This is especially important when it comes to complex information relating to salary sacrifice schemes. 

Being clear about how and when employees can get more information or support related to the benefit can give employees the reassurance they need to activate their new benefit. 

Launch day: Tick these off your list when you’re launching your new benefit

1. Show enthusiasm!

Those introducing a new benefit to employees need to show an enthusiasm that’s infectious to those around them. 

Excitement breeds interest from others, and indicates that the new benefit is worth knowing about. 

Having a couple of clear messages to hand that resonate with your employees based on their particular requirements will do wonders for spreading the word. 

2. Don’t limit the launch to a day

The launch of your new employee benefit shouldn’t be limited to a single day. 

Why not have a launch week? This helps spread the workload for HR teams and other stakeholders and reduces the pressure to get the message out to everyone in a single day. 

Spreading the launch also makes it more achievable to deliver your communications in multiple formats. Below are some ideas:

  • Monday: Announcement on MS Teams with a visual (video or image)
  • Tuesday: Email with info attached (why not record a video explaining the benefit?)
  • Wednesday: Share promotional material in communal areas
  • Thursday: Follow-up email for those that missed the first
  • Friday: Q&A session with HR/payroll/Finance (in person or webinar). Share the questions and answers with those unable to attend. 

A good benefits provider will assist with some of these, for example, holding webinars, providing visuals, and materials like FAQs you can circulate. 

3. Highlight the benefit at key times

Some benefits will be more relevant for people at certain times in their lives, so it’s worth reminding them at those moments.

Below are some big life moments that may lead employees to engage more with specific benefits:

  • Moving house 
  • Getting married
  • Starting or growing a family 
  • Menopause 
  • Unexpected family commitments 

4. Use total reward statements

Giving employees a total reward statement (TRS) with their payslips means they can see what benefits are available to them and which ones they use. 

Most people look at their payslip so it’s a great way to remind employees of the benefits they receive. You may also be able to use payslips to raise awareness of unused or new benefits available.

Some employees also need this information to help with tax returns and usually show similar information to the HMRC-friendly P11D forms.

Hooray! You’ve launched your new benefit! But don’t stop there

With the launch complete, now’s the time to consolidate all your hard work by measuring how successful your employee benefit is. 

By monitoring its success, you can assess the ROI of the benefit. Based on the information you gather, you might decide to adapt the benefit or offer something else that suits your employees better.

Evaluation can be based on multiple metrics and here are some ideas below. 

1. Assess appetite for your new benefit from employees

Through a focus group, survey, or informal discussions, you can find out whether employees feel the benefit is useful to them. They may also share what improvements they think could be made to enhance the experience. 

2. Source usage data from your benefits provider

It’s common for benefits providers to supply key data that helps you understand how your employees use the benefit. They may be able to send you monthly reports or digest emails summarising usage trends.  

3. Ask departing employees for feedback

Correctly offboarding employees is really important for your business. It’s also very useful because employees leaving a business are often the most honest. Find out what perks and benefits exiting employees valued most and what they think could be improved. 

4. Monitor staff turnover and absence data

Consider some of your key HR challenges, like turnover and employee absence rates. Have these changed since introducing the new benefit? Benefits are a key aspect of recruitment and retention strategies, so it’s important to tie them all together. 

5. Review time to hire data

Has the amount of time between a candidate contacting your company and accepting an employment offer decreased since the benefit was introduced?

If it hasn’t, are you doing enough to advertise to candidates the benefits your company offers? It’s easy to forget to update adverts when you introduce a new benefit.

Employee benefits are an important way to attract the best talent.

A well-chosen financial wellbeing benefit can complement your existing wellbeing strategy

Knowing how to launch a new staff benefit is easier when you understand all the moving parts. Careful planning, diligent implementation, and a retrospective focus can help you increase the chances of a successful new benefit.

With the cost-of-living crisis, the financial wellbeing of employees has moved up the agenda and most companies are now looking to include a financial wellbeing offering.

Worryingly, one in four employees say they’re unable to focus on work because they’re worried about money. To alleviate financial stress that leads to decreased productivity, many organisations are paying more attention to the way they pay their employees. 

Faster access to earnings for a more rewarding employee experience

Openwage is an earned wage access platform that empowers employees to access their earnings before payday. For a low, transparent fee, employees can access a portion of their earnings at any time in the month.

For employers, it’s an easy to roll-out solution that requires minimal maintenance. Automated deductions mean there are no payroll headaches. And best of all, Openwage costs employers nothing. 

To find out more about Openwage, you can request a demo today to see how our app and employer’s portal work.