It’s no secret that benefits play an important role in attracting and retaining talent. One of our clients—the largest asset manager in the world—learned this firsthand with the recent launch of a groundbreaking new global flexible time-off (FTO) policy. Although this firm is a financial services powerhouse, it recognizes that it competes for top talent with some of the best-known companies in the world, including those in industries outside of finance. Plus, feedback from a 2017 global benefits survey indicated that many employees, especially junior staff, were dissatisfied with the company’s time-off model, which was based on tenure. This feedback mirrored the company’s own benchmarking studies, which suggested that its time-off policy was below the market standard for junior-level roles.
The company was not only concerned about employee burnout and performance, but it also wanted its time-off policy to better reflect its guiding principles: trust, accountability to each other, fairness, sharing success, and bringing one’s best, engaged self to work.
The company decided that a flexible time-off (FTO) policy—which allows employees to take time away from work whenever they need to, without having to accrue time off—could provide employees with more autonomy over their schedules, making them more engaged and productive. Still, the Benefits team was concerned about making such a drastic move, especially considering that FTO policies were unheard of in the financial services sector.
While many companies launch an FTO policy incrementally or only to certain groups (e.g., only exempt employees), this one wanted to roll out the policy to all employees, regardless of professional level, job type, or location. The goal: to implement the new benefit for as many countries as possible on January 1, 2018, with the balance of countries going live throughout 2018.
They also wanted to announce the new policy to all worldwide employees at the same time. Anticipating a flurry of responses to the announcement, we helped the Benefits team prepare to field many concerns around:
The company engaged Segal Benz to create the communications to support the introduction of the new FTO policy. The most critical component of the entire campaign was helping employees understand the reason behind the policy change. Clearly articulating the “why” was going to make or break employees’ buy-in of the new policy.
The messaging hierarchy included:
In developing our strategy, we analyzed the company’s audiences, including employees’ potential reactions and areas of sensitivity. Additionally, we reviewed business press and incorporated insights about successful and unsuccessful rollouts of unlimited time-off policies.
And we were able to connect the Benefits team with other Segal Benz clients who already offered unlimited vacation. This helped them gather information that was key to internal buy-in and the eventual rollout of the program.
After conducting extensive project strategy, persona development, and audience analysis for the FTO campaign, we created key messages and 3 employee-facing pieces: an employee guide, a manager guide, and a manager presentation. These pieces also informed a video that the company created in-house.
The company was thrilled with the results. Their global head of human resources let us know that she received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the FTO launch. She heard from many senior leaders who told her that the policy launch was a huge accomplishment for the company and an “epic move.”
Various human resources business partners, who serve as liaisons between the employees and HR, relayed that they received a lot of positive feedback from employees. The business partners felt that the new policy would serve as a great tool to attract potential job candidates. Several managers expressed that they were hopeful that the change would encourage managers and employees to have more overarching, productive discussions about work-life flexibility.
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