Could Coronavirus End the Benefit Roadshow?

Could Coronavirus End the Benefit Roadshow?

A thought piece by James Shillaker, Founding MD of Incorpore Limited

One positive for the employee benefit industry to be drawn from this coronavirus horror would be the potential end of the antiquated ‘benefits roadshow’.

I’ve long argued against the need for employees to walk into the horseshoe-shaped cauldron of roller banners, grey suits behind tables and freebies in order to find out information they probably already know.

It’s been at least a decade since a team member returned from a roadshow saying it was a worthwhile success. Our company tried to pull out of all events last year but a few clients made us feel compelled to go. We also took part in a few third-party organised roadshows which were cataclysmic disasters. Event organisers hadn’t taken into account the total apathy of employees who never planned on turning up. A shambles.

Plus, they’re not cheap. Two staff members for the day, travel, parking, courier costs, refreshments… Around £400 to turn up and see a handful of employees. People don’t turn up in their masses anymore – not unless they are protesting about something or watching a contest. Neither of which happens at a benefit roadshow.

So, with coronavirus still lurking in the background, let’s end benefit roadshows now! All those in favour say “aye!”

Read more: The Dangers of Selling ‘360-Degree Wellness’

The age of employee engagement means benefits are being communicated much better than they were a decade ago. Companies use a variety of different media to update workforces who are already well-versed in the annual benefits process.

Said workforce is not going to turn up to a room full of unenthused representatives watching social media videos on their phones.

It’s time to kick roadshows into touch and fully embrace the virtual world. The joy of tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams is that they’re fully interactive. This of course enables us to see, speak, hear and screen-share with each other. There’s no reason why a group of 300 employees couldn’t watch the same presentation. Either all sitting in the same room (in a non-social distancing world), or indeed 300 different rooms. A virtual meeting still enables you to sell your benefit, perform a live chat service, deliver interactive FAQs and record the meeting. And all from the comfort of your desk.

Perhaps the time has come to train all our colleagues in the art of virtual presenting. Maybe there will be a talent grab to recruit staff with this particular set of skills: skills they’ve acquired during a good career and skills that make them a dream for people like us. They will present for you, they will sell for you and they will benefit you.