Eight steps to a payroll card program for employees that they will love

January 30, 2017


Prepaid payroll cards for employees have been a benefit for many millions of employees over the past few years. They’ve helped those who don’t have bank accounts receive their pay on time (while avoiding check-cashing and banking fees). They’ve helped families manage money better and stay in the black. And they’re ultra-convenient too – a no-strings-attached, no-bank-required debit card of the democratic age

And employers embrace payroll card program because it slashes payroll and administrative costs – saving money that can be put back into the company, which further helps employees (as well as company shareholders).

So it should be easy to get employees to love payroll cards. Right?

In many ways the answer is yes. Payroll cards for employees are an easy sell. But change can be difficult for people to accept, even when all the evidence suggests it will be good for them.

So here are eight steps you can take to ensure the many payroll card benefits are brought to your employees .

Step 1: Prepare a communications strategy

Be convincingStep 1: Prepare a communications strategy

A business decision might be indisputably right for a businessand its employees. But this doesn’t mean it will be instantly accepted by everyone. Sometimes employees need help (especially when it comes to matters as important as pay). You need to clearly outline the benefits and how to optimize them. For example:

  • Clearly educate employees on how to minimize fees or use their cards fee free
  • Clarify where they can get cash from their card (ATMs, retail establishments, association member banks)

That’s why you need to carefully plan a communications strategy and campaign that sets out the benefits of a payroll card program in ways that will engage and excite employees. It’s also important to understand the circumstances in which they might resist change. (We’ll cover this more in Step 7).

Listen to feedback

And let’s stay realistic – not everyone will sign up straight away. Keep this in mind as you launch your payroll card communication program then solicit feedback and act on that feedback. This will help you improve your program, gain the trust of employees and win widespread acceptance of the payroll card.

Step 2: Engage early, clearly and honestly

Start now

Start engaging and educating employees at the earliest opportunity. If you have an existing payroll card program make sure it’s included in all new-hire materials. If you haven’t selected your payroll card plan yet, it might be a good idea to consult with employees about potential schemes. This will help minimize any fear of change and help employees feel at ease with the program from the outset.

Honesty and clarity

Clear communication will remove uncertainty and create an atmosphere of trust. Members of your team – or select employee representatives – should test the payroll card prior to rollout. This will put them and you in a better position to answer any questions from employees.

Easy enrollment

Give your employees the choice of enrolling via a printed form or online. Not everyone has online access. Enrollment should be a straightforward process (see Step 6).

Step 3: Provide evidence and testimonials

Step 3: Provide evidence and testimonials

A crowd mentality

In 1969, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment in a busy New York Street using a group of actors. He initially asked one of them to stare up at a window. Few passers-by followed the actor’s lead. But as Milgram gradually increased the number of actors looking upwards, the number of people stopping to stare with them gradually grew too.

Milgram’s experiment highlights how people act in groups, which only intensifies when people are unsure about a course of action. This is why testimonials will help your employees embrace their payroll cards. (And it’s why you should regularly remind them how many of their colleagues are signing up for the program.)

A big endorsement

Recruit employees who already use your payroll card (and appreciate its benefits) to provide first-hand testimonials.

If possible, treat staff to a lunch or seminar at which speakers discuss their experiences with the prepaid card.

The right advocates

Your instinct might be to choose the most persuasive, popular or articulate employees to act as advocates or speakers at events. But research by UCLA psychology professor Noah Goldstein shows the more similar the person giving the testimonial is to the target audience, the more persuasive the message becomes.

Step 4: Make an impact

Step 4: Make an impact

Educate and inspire

How you communicate your payroll card program to employees will be influenced by your company’s culture, employee demographics, and available communication channels. (It might even be worth conducting a survey to find out which communications channels your employees trust most for company information.)

Create awareness and communicate benefits

Concentrate on promoting awareness about the program and educating employees about the benefits.

Here are some examples of information resources you could create:

  • A Q&A. Think of every possible question an employee might have about a payroll card program. Then provide every possible answer. Be prepared to update the list as new questions come in.
  • A pros & cons list. If you’ve selected the right payroll card program, there should be few downsides. Communicate them to employees with candor. Once again, honesty and transparency will build trust.
  • The complete guide. Detail every step your employees can expect to take on their pay roll card journey – from enrolling to using the card at an ATM. This should help employees feel orientated and excited about the program.
  • A visual guide. Consider summarizing the complete guide with an accompanying visual. Many employees will absorb visual messages more easily than text.
  • A video. Videos can be a valuable tool to educate employees and communicate the many benefits of payroll cards. The simplest example might be a set of photos and captions set to music. Animation is another fun way to communicate, if you have the resources.
  • Testimonials. Ask employee advocates to provide testimonials about the program, describing how they use it and what benefits it has brought them.

A good channel strategy

All of these informational resources can be delivered by email, social media channels, or placed on the company intranet. But creating hardcopy versions is important to ensure maximum reach.

Employee newsletters and magazines (whether printed or digital) are another communication channel to exploit. Also think about strategically placing posters – on every floor, in every work area, in the cafeteria, and by entrances and elevators.

Ensure the resources you create work in harmony. For example, a video is an impactful and easily digestible way to convey features and benefits. But consider releasing it in conjunction with a written resource that goes into more depth.

Step 5. Set up events and meetings

The big eventStep 5. Set up events and meetings

Events and meetings might turn out to be your most effective communications tool. They’ll allow you to offer employees all the information they need in one place – using a variety of formats. Your events could feature talks from experts and employee advocates, as well as Q&A sessions. You could also video sessions then share highlights online for employees who can’t attend.

Events can be great opportunities to get people to sign up on the spot – so lay out forms and have staff ready to help.

A smaller meeting

You should also organize smaller meetings between teams and direct managers. In these situations, it’s important to prepare your managers for any questions or concerns, and educate them on how to respond. Smaller team meetings can complement events well.

Test your communication

Develop a brief quiz on the features and benefits of your payroll card program. Reward employees who respond properly with a token gift or fund on their new payroll card.

Step 6: Make enrollment easy

Step 6: Make enrollment easy

The guide

Work with your payroll card vendor to produce a comprehensive and easy-to-understand enrollment document, produced in the languages your employees are most comfortable speaking. (Your payroll vendor should be able to help.)

Good experiences

Give employees access to an easy onboarding and enrollment portal. A poor user experience at this point could put potential participants off. So make sure you personally test out the user journey employees will experience. Work with your vendor to address any problems.

Provide educational materials or assistance that will help your employees complete enrollment without a hitch.

Be on hand

Your vendor should provide complete employee support and 24/7 customer care in the languages your employees speak (see Step No. 8). But also ensure you have onsite experts ready to guide employees at every stage of the enrollment process. Investment at this point will pay dividends for the future.

Learn and improve

Collect ongoing feedback from the enrollment process and constantly improve. Ask employees who sign up to fill out a quick questionnaire about their enrollment experience. Find out about any potential obstacles and work out ways to remove them for the next person who signs up.

Step 7: Understand your audience

Resist resistance

It’s important to understand why people might say no to some requests, despite all the evidence showing that change would be good for them.

Psychologists have shown that resistance to change can stem from a deep-seated need to feel we make consistent, rational decisions. By agreeing to use payroll cards, employees who have previously insisted they wanted to stick with checks might worry they are being inconsistent with their previously held views.

Focus your message on how putting faith in payroll cards is consistent with their pre-existing faith in checks. For example, assure employees that, like checks, payroll cards are a reliable, trusted way of being paid. Position the payroll cards as a next logical step for check users.

Step 7:  Understand your audience

Step 8: Pick the right partner

If you really want your employees to fall in love with their payroll card, your payroll card vendor must offer a great customer service. Here’s what you should expect from them:

  • 24/7 customer care – 365 days of the year (provided by bilingual/multi-lingual care centers with a high percentage of one-call resolutions. As well as high customer-satisfaction scores.)
  • Fast replacement service for lost or stolen cards.
  • Free balance inquiries (which can be accessed online, by text and by calling customer care).
  • A mobile-optimized employee and employer Portal.
  • Online access to transaction history.
  • A budgeting and spending tool to help employees keep track of money.
  • Point of Sale, ATM, Bank, and online access to funds.
  • Bill-paying services.
  • Convenience checks.
  • Account notifications.

When all’s said and done, your employees will only grow attached to their payroll cards when they start using them. Your job is to open their minds to the possibilities. And don’t be afraid to look to your payroll card vendor for assistance. They should have the resources and expertise to help.

If you’d like further tips and details on how to help your employees fall in love with their payroll cards, watch our webinar.

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