​​​How is participation in your employee stock purchase plan (ESPP)? If the answer is something other than good or great, it might be time to reassess or fine-tune your education initiatives. This article will outline ways to turbocharge your ESPP education, whether you're hoping to increase enrollment in your plan, renew interest in it or inject some newness into your communications campaign.

To start, consider a few basic questions: why do you want to promote your plan (identify your purpose); what do you want to communicate (what's your message); and what is your communications objective (raise awareness and/or impart information)?

​Why do you want to promote your plan?

What you might want to say depends on what you're trying to accomplish with your education initiative. For instance, your focus might be employee engagement. To this end, studies show that employees who participate in an ESPP versus those who do not, work longer hours, are absent less frequently, are less likely to quit and express greater job satisfaction. In other words, offering an ESPP can lead to a better, more engaged, more valuable workforce. Identify the reason(s) you want to promote your plan, such as the above, and incorporate them into your messaging.​​​

Studies show that employees who participate in an ESPP:​​

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    Work longer hours

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    Are absent less frequently

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    Are less likely to quit

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    Express greater job satisfaction

What do you want to communicate?

Don't expect to share everything about your plan to employees once and expect them to remember or understand it. Instead, engage your employees through regular communications that are relevant and timely. For example, wait to provide detailed information about the tax implications to participating in the plan until the purchase date and/or at year end, when the information will be most relevant. Further, identify the questions people are repeatedly bringing to your department about your program. These are ideal subjects to craft communications around. For every person that asks a question, there are probably several others that are wondering the same thing or who may ask about it later.

​What is your communications objective?

There is a difference between communications that create awareness and those that impart information. In order for your plan to operate at peak performance, you need to deliver both.

A recent Gallup poll shows that over 85% of large employers in the U.S. offer some sort of wellness program. Yet, only 60% of workers are even aware of the existence of such programs w​​​ithin the organization and of the 60% that are aware, only 40% actually make use of their wellness benefits. This study makes it clear that simply offering an employee benefit program doesn't guarantee participation in it. Unless the program is combined with effective strategies for increasing awareness of the program, it will likely fail to yield expected results. Out of sight, is out of mind!

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