Communication plan for the win

Sara Wilson, Consultant – ESOP Communication, Principal®

You made the ‘You’re now employee owners!’ announcement, celebrated the important milestone, and even provided some ESOP basics. Employees are excited about having a stake in the company and might even be asking more questions. Then, suddenly…crickets. The excitement seems to have worn off, no one is talking about the ESOP, employees aren’t asking questions, they still have no idea what an ESOP is, or they aren’t necessarily ‘acting like owners.’

As an employee-owned company, one of your goals should be to help employees understand how their individual roles can impact the company’s bottom line and their own ESOP accounts. If they have this clarity, employees are more likely to take ownership of what they do and find ways to make the company more successful. That’s the mark of a truly engaged employee and a thriving ownership culture.

It takes work to get there—and stay there. One of the ways to do that is having frequent, well-thought-out communication. What you say—and how you say it—depends on your goals for the ESOP, your employees, and the communication methods that can be leveraged. This can seem like a lot to get your arms around.

There’s a really good way to help organize it all so your communication is the best it can be. Put together a communication plan.

Plan it out

A plan can be beneficial at all stages of an ESOP—making the first introduction, helping build knowledge and understanding, and supporting an ownership culture.

It’s the guide to any kind of communication because it identifies:

  • your goals and ways to achieve them,
  • who needs what information,
  • what and how you’ll say it (so people actually read it!),
  • how to share it, and
  • ways to measure the impact of the communication.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all communication plan. This is a good thing. What goes into your plan needs to be specific to your goals, your company, and your employees. It can cover a wide variety of topics or items to address. Things to think about are identifying any gaps in what you’ve already shared, how employees received other communication (was it strong enough or did it go unnoticed), or maybe it’s time for something new.

Be glad you did

Taking the time and putting in the effort to pull together a plan should be worth it in the long run. You’ll have a guide to what you need to say, when, how, and why you’re saying it in the first place. Add in that your company and the way people communicate are ever-changing, so your ESOP communication needs to change with it. Since you have a communication plan, you can update it whenever you need and not lose your original foundation.

Leveraging a plan can make communication more efficient, effective, and memorable. That can help drive employees’ understanding of how they can impact the company, build trust and increase action and engagement—the things employee-owned companies generally want to have. It can be difficult to achieve if your communication is done randomly, addressing the issue of the day or picking 1 thing to focus on at a time. There needs to be a method behind everything you share, and that’s where having a plan comes in. It’ll help you have a consistent message and connection to the ESOP in all you do.

Take the time to be purposeful and thoughtful with your ESOP communication by putting together a plan. It can help make your job easier, save you time, and help you get the results you want.

Does it seem a little daunting? We can help! Contact your ESOP Relationship Manager, who will connect you with the ESOP communication specialists

The subject matter in this communication is educational only and provided with the understanding that Principal® is not rendering legal, accounting, investment advice or tax advice. You should consult with appropriate counsel or other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax, investment or accounting obligations and requirements.

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