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Inside American National’s Hidden Paycheck Campaign

By Amanda Cannata | 2-min read


American National Insurance Company, headquartered in Galveston, Texas, is no ordinary employer. In business for over 110 years, it boasts impressive service records among its employees – many have spent upwards of 30 years with the organization, and some have even spent five or more decades, a story virtually unheard of among today’s employers.

Despite such a notable history of employee retention, recent surveys revealed that employee engagement was low in some key areas, including total rewards. Several factors led to the low engagement: a distributed workforce with corporate and field employees spread across several states, inconsistent information and programs (due to acquisitions), and a general perception that the company’s compensation and benefits were not up to par.

After discovering the low engagement, the company’s leadership team began an initiative to improve employee engagement, particularly as it related to their total rewards offering. Since communication was at the center of their approach, the company created a dedicated HR communication team that looked for ways to improve their ability to reach their workforce.

Hidden Paycheck Campaign

As part of the effort, the company’s CEO directed the Total Rewards team to begin delivering total compensation statements to employees. Since this would be the first time the organization delivered the statements, the Total Rewards team knew that many employees would be unsure what they meant.

The team took a marketing lens when looking for a solution and decided to expand the project into a total rewards campaign, which they dubbed “Hidden Paycheck.” Each month from June of this year through February 2018, employees are receiving small snippets of information on a benefit or program that will be included in the total compensation statement. The topics are timed to coincide with relevant seasons: August, for example, will highlight PTO, a popular benefit in the summer, while January will showcase wellness, coinciding with New Year’s resolutions. The overall objective of the campaign is to build awareness of the value of total rewards programs before the total compensation statements are released in early 2018. 

As they were planning, the American National team saw additional benefits to this campaign approach. The campaign would turn benefits into an ongoing topic of discussion rather than a once-a-year event. It would also prepare employees for open enrollment well in advance of the fall season. And the company would instill a consistent message about total rewards among their employees. “Because we weren’t educating people enough throughout the year, employees were experiencing information overload at Open Enrollment, and that didn’t feel like the best approach” said Sandra Hemstreet, a member of the Total Rewards team.

Multi-Channel and Multi-Format Approach

When determining the details of their campaign, the Total Rewards team thought about how they would disseminate the information. American National employees are a diverse group: they are split evenly between Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers, and spread across a variety of worksites, including corporate offices, home offices, and the field. The Total Rewards team knew from their survey that this diverse group had varied preferences for receiving information. So, they incorporated multiple channels in their campaign, including e-mails, web banners, and posters. And they included information in a variety of formats, from video to interactive tools and documents. “We were trying to identify as many channels as we could to get the information to people and give them an opportunity to have what they need…using the multi-channel approach seemed really effective in getting everybody something they could connect to,” said Hemstreet.

Measuring and Iterating

As with any good initiative, the American National team is committed to measuring the success of their efforts. The campaign is still underway, but initial feedback has been positive, and the company plans to take a more formal pulse on employee reactions later this year as the campaign nears its conclusion.