Six tips for communicating negative change to employees

Pensions and benefits is constantly evolving and we often see “negative change” being communicated to staff.  


This could be the removal of a benefit, the introduction of an excess charge for Private Medical Insurance (PMI), closing a final salary (DB) pension scheme… the list goes on.  You can probably remember a negative change which you have had to communicate to staff.

 

We have put together six tips on communicating negative change to employees:

 

PLAN 

When is the change coming in?  Work backwards and create a clear comms plan.  Think about how many touch-points you need to get your audience to fully understand your message.  We all like to think that staff will digest and fully understand our first email about a topic, but in reality they probably skim read and take little in.  We would suggest at least three touch-points (or more if this is a very significant change).

 

TARGET

Does the change affect everyone equally? Probably not, it may not even affect a certain population.  It is good practice to think about each population of your audience and tailor the messages to them.  Blanket comms are no good for negative change.  

 

ARM YOUR MANAGERS

Line managers will be one of the first places staff will go to ask questions.  Make sure they are well informed and understand the reason behind the change, so that they can be your “soldiers on the front line”.  If staff receive this news and become downhearted, then they will seek answers to “why have you done this thing that has a negative impact on me?”  If you don’t give your managers the tools to put out the fires, then this could cause tension within their teams. 

 

EMPATHISE

This is perhaps the most important stage, remember we are talking about negative change.  Don’t try to brush over the fact that this is negative, empathise with your staff, understand how this will affect them.  Try to paint a picture of the future.  There is a business decision behind the change, so show them how this will have a positive impact further down the line.  

 

KEY MESSAGES

Create your key messages at the start of the project and continue to reinforce them at every touchpoint.  As we said at the start of this blog, you have to repeat those messages to ensure your audience comes away from each comm with the key info in their head.  

 

FEEDBACK

“Our way or the highway” seldom works with negative change.  You need to let your audience have a voice, allow them to provide you with feedback and this can turn into a two-way conversation once again, giving you the opportunity to reinforce your key messages.  Often we predict that a change will impact someone in a certain way, but assumptions can usually be some way off the mark.  Through feedback you will know exactly what your audiences’ thoughts are and they will perhaps help you to plan the next stage of comms.  

Are mortgages delaying retirement?

For most 25-35 year olds, getting on the property ladder is at the forefront of their financial focus.

Which makes sense... Owning a property comes with many advantages;

- The ability to store equity in the property
- The potential to profit from continued growth in the housing market
- Having a place to call your own

However, rising housing prices, while nice for those who already own a property, have only made it more of a stretch for first-time buyers to get their foot on the ladder!

In the last few years, there have been measures introduced to help first-time buyers, such as the Help to Buy and Lifetime ISA’s.

In a more recent move, some lenders have started offering maximum mortgage terms of up to 40 years (up from 35 years) and increasing the maximum mortgage age to 70 (up from 65).

So what does this mean?
A longer mortgage term generally results in lower monthly repayments, even though you’ll pay interest over a longer period. Some people may prefer this as it frees up disposable income however, it's worth considering how this might affect your intended retirement age!

For anyone planning to retire at age 65, this would mean taking out a 40-year mortgage at age 25, and for many, owning a property by age 25 is fairly unrealistic. Therefore anyone aged 25+ may need to consider pushing back their intended retirement age to ensure their mortgage is paid off before they stop working.

However, it's not all doom and gloom as lenders will now consider mortgages that run into retirement. This does mean meeting eligibility criteria, such as providing proof of retirement income. This may be difficult for anyone in their late 20’s and early 30’s to determine but could be provided at the point of remortgaging in the future.

Is renting such a bad thing?
If we look at other parts of Europe such as France and Germany, the share of rental property far outweighs home ownership. In Berlin, for example, the rental property share is 90%. Although this means you’ll continue paying rent into retirement, it takes away to pressure of trying to save an enormous deposit. It also means people aren’t fixed to an area, they can travel or move elsewhere at a months notice, without worrying about the time and cost involved with selling a property and most importantly it shouldn’t affect your retirement age as there are no borrowing age/time restrictions and the rent can be built into your retirement planning.

 

Disclaimer :- Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

3 Steps to delivering an engaging group presentation!

3 Steps to delivering an engaging group presentation!
 

In our first blog on group presentations, we talked about the benefits of holding them, and today we look at the steps you can take to ensure you run an engaging session!

Regardless of the product, service or topic of discussion, there are some key considerations presenters should consider to maximise engagement.

It’s worth remembering that although you might like to think otherwise, the audience may not always be attending a presentation for the sheer thrill of hearing about the topics set out in the agenda. It may be a company requirement/recommendation, to collect CPD credits, or just for some time away from work.

This only emphasises the importance of ensuring a positive experience.

1. Put yourself and the audience at ease

Regardless of how many times you’ve spoken in front of people, it would be false to claim you don’t still get a bit nervous beforehand. A good way to settle the nerves is to have a chat to people as the room begins to fill up. Try to avoid anything related to the presentation and focus on asking them questions…
“How’s your day going?”… “How long have you worked for the company?” …“Where’s good to go for lunch around here?”… “You must be either extremely bored or just very keen to get some time away from work to come and listen to me talk for an hour!”

Not only does this settle your nerves but it prompts immediate engagement from the audience outside the pressure of the presentation, but most importantly, it gives you the opportunity to showcase your personality. It's a fact that if people like you, they will be more likely to pay attention to what you’re saying.

2. The fun doesn’t end here

Just because you’ve had some good conversations and maybe even got a few laughs before the start of the presentation, you could still lose the interest of the audience if you slip into ‘robot mode’ once you start talking business. By this I mean, a monotone voice, scripted bullet point delivery, lack of movement etc.

- Try to keep an enthusiasm in your voice or the audience will become as disinterested as you sound

- Be familiar and confident with your content, long pauses and ‘errms’ can give the impression you don’t know your stuff

- Use relatable examples, once you’ve made a point, think of a way to put this into a real-life scenario

- The most vital part of maintaining the focus of an audience is to ask them questions, make a point and ask for their opinion, or check their existing knowledge by asking a question on the upcoming topic.

3. Drawing to a close

The end of the presentation is your last point of contact with the audience. Hopefully, they’ve enjoyed the content and shown engagement throughout. What’s important now is to provide them with the tools to contact you;

- Make sure your last slide contains the company name and logo, your name, a contact number and an email address. Whilst some people may note this down it's not 100% effective.

- A more direct way of providing the audience with your details is to leave business cards or flyers at the end of each row, or on the seats before the presentation.

- Draw their attention to the above, it’s important to finish with a closing statement highlighting your contact information and to get in touch if they’ve benefitted from the presentation

Group presentations, what’s the point?

Group presentations, what’s the point?
 

In the first of our two-part blog on group presentations, we delve into the benefits of group presentations! Be sure to keep an eye out for the next one later this week!

Group presentations are used across many different industries to widely varying audiences, but they all share a common goal - to effectively deliver information. They provide a great opportunity to reach large audiences via an interactive platform.

This makes group presentations an ideal way to communicate with your staff.
 

Communicating Benefits

Although staff receive paperwork about their benefits when they join the company, how many actually read it and could tell you exactly what benefits package they have? You might offer the best employee benefits in the world, but what’s the point if your staff don’t know about them?

Why not send an email?

Staff often get hundreds of emails a day, you don’t want information on employee benefits to be just another email lost in the pile. Even for those that do pick up the email and read it, the chance that they will be inspired enough to do anything about it is fairly low.

Bringing it to life

Presentations are the perfect way to bring dull or meaningless blocks of text to life, not only through the use of on-screen graphics and illustrations but by the presenter providing real life, relatable examples.

One such example might be;

Workplace Pension - What is it?… How does it work?… How much will it cost?… How does it compare to other savings vehicles?… How does your future look?

In this instance, the relatable example may use a case study showing two people and the expected income in retirement that could be achieved by someone who makes pension contributions vs someone who doesn’t.

OR

What a monthly contribution of say £50 might provide as income in retirement alongside your employer's contribution.

Ongoing engagement

By the end of the presentation staff will;

- Leave with a better understanding of what is available and what each benefit means for them.

- Know who to speak to and where to access their benefits

- Continue discussions with their peers and are more likely to implement changes and increase overall engagement.

- Once staff have familiarised themselves with their benefits and where to find them, they will be more likely to place a higher value on them.

 

53% of schemes first contact members about their options within a year of retirement!

Pensions Age - 53% of schemes first contact members about their options within a year of retirement!

In the news! Our pension freedoms research has been featured by Pensions Age!

So here is a little snippet... You can read the full article HERE.

Over half, 53 per cent, of pension schemes leave it to the point of retirement, or within a year, before first contacting members about their retirement options, new research has found.

Despite leaving it late, a survey by Lemonade Reward, of 60 companies with 3.6 million members, found that 90 per cent of schemes do provide support for members, but few rely on in-house tools.

Commenting on the research, Lemonade Reward managing partner David Pugh said: “Organisations clearly want the best outcomes for members, but are struggling with the tools they’re using and their communication timing. Our research shows it’s important not to rely on a single information source for the answers and the sooner you open dialogue with members, the better they understand the options.”

Download the research HERE !