How education can drive long-term share plan engagement

Share planning

‘When we launched our global share plan to 78,000 colleagues, take-up wasn’t our key measure of success’ – Alison Burstall, People Director, Group Reward, at Kingfisher.

Surprised? Kingfisher is keen for colleagues to have the opportunity to become shareholders and share in Kingfisher’s future. But it also knows colleagues can only make the decisions that are right for them when they’re armed with knowledge. That’s why when it launched its 1+1 Plan, there was a significant focus on providing information and education, and encouraging engagement with this just as much as encouraging actual sign-up.

A range of communications for a global workforce

Central to the launch of the 1+1 Plan was its dedicated microsite, which acts as a main hub of information about the plan for Kingfisher’s global workforce. Here, colleagues can connect not just with the details of the plan itself, but plenty of supporting information to really immerse themselves in the shareholder experience and help them decide if it’s right for them.

Blogs, videos and factsheets cover a range of topics, from introducing annual general meetings to explaining dividends, and advice on how participants can make the most of the plan. By including communications in varying formats, Kingfisher has also considered that people digest information differently: a clearly laid out factsheet works for some, while simple, explanatory videos work for others. There are interactive elements to the microsite too, such as the ability to look up Kingfisher’s current share price and a calculator so colleagues can find out what their personal contributions are worth. It’s all geared toward empowering employees with the tools and knowledge to really understand what’s on offer, and to be able to make the decisions that best suit their needs.

As Alison explains: ‘Education, and helping colleagues to make informed decisions, is our priority over driving take-up alone, as this narrow focus could result in them being part of our share plans when it may not be best for their personal circumstances and financial resilience.’

Knowledge is power in these economically challenging times

Kingfisher’s approach is one we’re seeing more brands adopt as part of their share plan communications mix. During these economically challenging times, when we’re all that bit more aware of where our pennies are going, we’re naturally more cautious about making financial decisions. The more information we’re armed with, the more confident we can feel making them.

And that of course involves having a clear and consistent communications strategy around your educational content too. In Kingfisher’s case, this meant meeting colleagues in the place they knew they were most likely to engage – via an easy-to-access online portal, re-branded for its individual businesses to provide colleagues with consistency. By pulling everything together into one central hub, and using supporting assets to guide colleagues toward it, Kingfisher was also able to easily monitor engagement rates, and see what people were clicking on to help it understand where any current gaps in their knowledge might lie. It also helped Kingfisher understand areas they could cover in more detail during subsequent launches; for example, a number of colleagues fed back that they’d liked to have seen more information on the tax consequences of the plan.

Kingfisher can now use its rich mine of data to plan any future education-led content. This explains why it doesn’t consider take-up the only measure of success – every employee interaction is an opportunity for them to gain knowledge and awareness, that they can then apply to their personal circumstances.

Chrissie Davis, founder and managing director of Eximia, says: ‘The key to share plan success, as we think Kingfisher demonstrates really well here, is to plan a clear communications strategy that doesn’t simply invite employees to join a share plan. They’ve thought about what they can offer in terms of knowledge and education too, both in the lead up to launch, and to support colleagues through their shareholder journey. At the same time, what they’ve created benefits those who might not choose to sign up this time, but may well make a different decision in the future, because they have a greater understanding of how share plans work.’

As Alison concludes: ‘We strongly believe in the concept of colleague share ownership and wanted to design a plan which was inclusive for all colleagues. In doing that, we felt a real responsibility to ensure colleagues had the information they needed to make an informed decision, and our approach to education is an invaluable part of this.’

Chrissie Davis, Eximia

Mike Emmett, Kingfisher

Grab a seat at the Annual ProShare Conference on 29 September and listen to Chrissie and Mike discuss how Kingfisher is using financial education to help their people make the best decisions for them.

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