How to Communicate a Change in Annual Raises or Compensation Rates

Any kind of change in the workplace can be a challenge for employees. Big or small, change is typically not a welcomed thing. Add in a monetary factor and people tend to get even more stressed out. It’s understandable. You’re talking about making changes to their livelihood, which can be stressful, confusing, annoying or downright scary. However, change is an inevitable part of life and work. So when you do find yourself in a situation where change is around the corner, it’s vital to communicate in a way that doesn’t alienate your workforce. Communicating compensation rates or annual raise changes requires strategy, tact and forethought.

Consider these three essentials for communicating changes in annual raises or compensation rates:

Research and strategize

The most important part of communicating compensation changes is to remember that all of your communication efforts are pieces of a larger plan. Internal communications management and marketing are just as important as external communications, so give these issues the time and attention they deserve. You’ll see a smoother rollout, higher acceptance and a more content employee population. Start with a bit of informal research through conversations with employees to understand how this change will be interpreted and accepted. Get input from your company’s communications team and together, create a plan, timeline and supporting collateral materials.

Put yourself in their shoes

As you’re planning your internal communications strategy, put yourself in your employees’ shoes and think about what’s best for them, all the ways they could react, how and when they’d prefer to find out and the questions they may have. Making the right decisions early on can make communicating the details easier and make the changes more likely to be widely accepted. For instance, if you’re switching from an anniversary to focal date for annual raises, you could implement the change in a way that is either more advantageous to you or to the employee. Leaning towards what is best for your workforce will give you an edge in communicating because the message is positive. If it’s inevitable that the situation will displease employees, think critically about how employees will perceive and question it so you are at least prepared.

Use multiple methods

If you’re thinking an email or newsletter article will cover it, think bigger. Use multiple channels to reach as many employees as possible, and consider holding events to invite people in to discuss the changes. Have an open house ice cream social where employees can come have their questions answered, or a lunch and learn with an overview and Q&A session. It may take more time and work to communicate through multiple channels, but you only have a short amount of time in which to influence how the changes are perceived. Putting in the extra work is totally worth it. If you think you’ve done enough, use one more form of communication. It’s really difficult to actually over-communicate, but it’s incredibly easy to end up not communicating enough.

Tell us what you think

Tell us about your experience in communicating these kinds of changes in the comments section below. What’s the biggest hurdle to employees accepting a compensation change?

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