Crafting Timely Messages for Maximum Impact

Written By: Robyn Shutak, Liz Stoudt

Employees are most interested in their equity benefits at times when it’s most relevant to them. Most equity compensation professionals know this but don’t always know what messages they should be sending or when they should send them. 

Over the years, Infinite Equity has developed guiding principles for a winning communication plan with specifics on equity types to help companies identify the appropriate time or event to communicate. But first, let’s take a closer look at the top five ways you can begin to unlock engagement in your equity plan. 

1. Craft A Winning Communication Strategy

Crafting an effective equity compensation communication strategy requires a comprehensive understanding of both the company’s objectives and the employee’s needs. It’s crucial to establish clear and consistent messaging that highlights the value of equity benefits in alignment with the company’s overall mission and goals. By establishing guiding principles or a philosophical framework at the outset, a solid foundation is laid for the communication strategy surrounding the program that should generate interest and excitement about the plan.

2. Understand the Need for both Marketing and Educational Content 

Marketing and educational content are crucial in equity compensation communication strategies as they clarify the intricacies of these programs, ensuring employees grasp their value, and help to create excitement and engagement. Including both types of content in your strategy dispels misconceptions, builds trust, and encourages active employee participation. 

3. Use a Variety of Communication Methods to Be Effective 

There are a lot of communication methods that you can include in your strategy to make it effective. From email to videos, or texting, it’s been proven that companies find the most success by utilizing all mediums and incorporating interactive methods like videos, games, quizzes, and more to engage your employees. 

4. Be Sure to Consider Your Audience

Equity plays a different role in different employees’ experiences – and you must tailor the communication and messages so they understand why it’s significant for them. Tailor your communication approach by considering your diverse employee demographics and preferences, utilizing various channels to effectively convey key messages. Recognize that different communication styles resonate with different age groups, ensuring you integrate both on-demand and live sessions, along with online and printed materials. 

5. The Right Message at the Right Time

Effective communication hinges on timing, recognizing that employees are most receptive when information is relevant to their circumstances. 

Below we’ll share three examples of communicating for ESPPs, RSUs, and options. Ensuring you are delivering the right communications with relevant information at the right time.

Communicate Throughout the Equity Life Cycle: ESPP

  • Before enrollment, use a multi-channel strategy to create awareness, educate on the basics of ESPP, and create a streamlined process for employees to enroll.  
  • This awareness campaign should continue through enrollment. Live and virtual trainings are very impactful in educating employees and encouraging them to enroll.
  • At purchase, consider providing tax FAQs so they understand the implications of selling.  Include information on the benefits of holding for tax purposes versus selling.
  • Ensure your materials include tax concepts, like what events trigger a taxable event and how to make changes.  
  • Be sure to measure changes in participation and contribution levels by wide ranges of demographics to identify what’s working and where there are gaps.

Bonus Tip! Instead of sending an email to all employees about the upcoming ESPP enrollment period, consider versioning the communication so that it targets specific employee groups:

  • Communication Version #1: Employees who have never enrolled in the ESPP
  • Communication Version #2: Employees who are current participants in the ESPP
  • Communication Version #3: Employees who used to be enrolled, but are not current participants in the ESPP

Communicate Throughout the Equity Life Cycle: RSUs

Just like ESPP, your RSU communications should be frequent and event-related.

Consider a phased approach as illustrated below: 

  • What employees need to know at grant, e.g., the award terms, grant value, and type of award
  • What employees  need to know at vest, e.g., once vested, RSUs will be taxed at ordinary income tax rates and shares will be sold to cover the tax withholding obligation
  • What employees need to know at sale

Communicate Throughout the Equity Life Cycle: Options

For options, consider how you should communicate at grant, after vesting when people have the opportunity to exercise and sell shares, and the ongoing cycle of options.

  • At grant, launch a multi-channel strategy to create awareness and a call to action to accept grants. Educate individuals on the basics of options and how value is delivered.
  • As options start to vest, provide more details about what happens at exercise, including tax FAQs by different jurisdictions.
  • Similarly, at sale, while we know the company isn’t withholding or reporting, we still want to create high-level awareness that employees have a tax responsibility. The idea is to avoid surprises or unexpected outcomes for employees, which can derail engagement and perceived value.
  • On an ongoing basis, consider providing financial wellness offerings for how equity compensation fits into the overall financial picture.
  • The company should measure exercise and selling behavior, which may reveal gaps in understanding.

In Summary

Understanding the optimal timing and content for communicating equity benefits is crucial for fostering engagement and maximizing the value of your program. While many industry professionals recognize the importance of their communication strategies, knowing precisely what messages to convey and when can be challenging. By leveraging Infinite Equity’s guiding principles and expertise in crafting effective communication plans, companies can navigate these challenges with confidence.

Infinite Equity’s IMPACT program provides targeted messaging and strategic timing, so organizations can unlock greater employee engagement and ensure that equity benefits are perceived as valuable assets that drive individual and company success. To learn more, contact us at [email protected].  

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