Engaging with employees with the help of two friendly squirrels
Have you ever tried to explain your job to your parents? With all the best intentions, it can be a bit of a challenge! My guess is that you put on your most patient voice, strip away some of the business jargon, simplify the details and throw in an interesting example or anecdote. This usually leads to more questions being asked, but at least it covers the basics and something memorable they can go on to repeat to others if required.
I wish someone could have helped strip away some of the jargon for me as I read through some recent communications on a new pension plan scheme. Phrases such as ‘salary sacrifice arrangement’, ‘trustees of your trust’, ‘fees for custody’, ‘mid real rate of return assumptions’ were enough to make me give up quite quickly and file the papers away in a drawer to face another day. But the problem was these documents were important and required me to follow a process of signing things and answering questions, and there was a deadline.
Companies regularly need to communicate with their employees around new HR policies, training opportunities, pension plans, and leadership changes. But unless these are subjects directly part of their day-to-day role of employees, the level of understanding is mixed if not minimal, leading to disengagement and at the least, frustration. So, how can you engage with employees in a more considered and engaging way so that these important messages are not lost amongst the hundreds of other messages in their inbox?
We come across this challenge often in our employee campaign projects. For example, global insurance business, Allianz wanted support to communicate their employee share purchase plan to thousands of employees. Our insight was that employees may need a bit of help to understand all the financial and legal terminology, including complex tax implications. So, our idea was that we need some helpful guides – and we proposed some animated characters and nutty banter. We created two friendly squirrels; Hazel, the more knowledgeable and adept squirrel, and her friend, Mylo, the one who needed a bit more guidance and time to understand the details. Throughout the campaign, which included some film and animations, our squirrel characters ensured that every piece of communication was seen through the lens of employees, and not filled with jargon. The squirrels allowed us to be both creative and informative. Crucially they have provided consistency and a memorable platform for the campaign, now running into its fourth year globally. They’ve also picked up a string of trophies, including recent gold for ‘Best Plan Communications’ from the Global Equity Organization Awards. It’s nuts!
Naz Sadri is an Employee Engagement Strategist at MerchantCantos.