The cost of living crisis is hitting us all – and hard – say experts, with fuel and food prices higher than ever. As inflation is forecast to hit 10%, three-quarters of Britons are looking to change jobs seeking bigger pay packets and better benefits to help them deal with price rises.

During these stressful times, employers have a moral duty to provide information, advice and support to help staff cope. Clear and compelling communication from HR and Reward teams, promoting tangible cost-saving benefits, can help recruit new staff and retain talent.

In this article, we explore some effective internal communications strategies every business can use.

Build a benefit marketing plan

Creating a comprehensive benefits communication plan is critical to highlight the support available for staff. Internal communications leaders must work with HR & Reward teams to create a compelling offer.

Internal communication has a significant impact on employee engagement, organisational culture and productivity, says the CIPD. Building benefits around your business can help to engage employees, giving greater meaning to their work.

Successful internal communications strategies share these five fundamentals:

  1. Understand your audience – Successful marketing campaigns aren’t based on assumptions or intuition but on insight. Spend time learning about your audience, where they search for information and what they’re looking for. Internal surveys and workshops can help you develop a knowledge of what will and won’t work.
  2. Create compelling messages – Internal communications campaigns should use the same tactics as commercial campaigns, including clear copy, strong messages, calls to action and outcomes.
  3. Use all channels – An email to all staff isn’t enough; you must ensure you use all channels to reach the team. Text messages, emails, webinars, podcasts, videos, and more should all be part of your campaign. Understanding your audience is critical to selecting the most appropriate channels.
  4. Go big on benefits – Raising awareness is great, but staff want clear and tangible benefits. Focus campaigns on how you can support them to cope with the cost of living crisis.
  5. Use rewards to increase retention – Rewards campaigns are an internal form of brand building for your business. Highlight the benefits your company offers to demonstrate your investment in staff and the rewards of staying loyal.

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how we work and where we do our jobs, with more of us working at home or flexibly. A strong internal communications plan can bring an organisation together, with communication creating a strong sense of commonality.

Workplace communications strategies must embrace diversity in imagery, messages and focus. Digital tools can help break down internal communications silos and ensure one message reaches everyone.

Go big on benefits

Benefits shouldn’t be generic but reflect your business, principles, and priorities. A cycle to work scheme, for example, can help your employees save money, but it’s also a step toward creating healthier lifestyles and cutting carbon emissions. If colleagues need to drive, a car maintenance salary sacrifice scheme can help save money on the essentials to keep their vehicles on the road.

The cost of living crisis will affect us all, but those on the national minimum wage and national living wage will be hit hardest. There are schemes available that specifically support those on the lowest wages, offering an extra helping hand when it’s needed most.

During the crisis, employee benefits could be the difference between an existing employee staying or walking and key to catching the eye of new talent, says recruitment expert Michael Page. 

Here are some practical ways you can go big on benefits to attract new talent:

  • Highlight benefits in job specs – Ensure benefits are promoted in job specs but do more than list them. Bring them to life and tie them to your principles for maximum effect. Linking benefits to organisational objectives and outcomes creates a more compelling message.
  • Build benefits messaging into a public-facing website – Ensure that your benefits are clear to anyone.
  • Engage your rewards benefit provider – Your employee benefits provider can support you in promoting your benefits, including creating marketing materials or even building a benefits microsite.
  • Make employees your advocatesEmpowering employee voices is a powerful way to increase trust in your messaging. Use case studies involving real people to amplify your messages.