What is the one piece of information that you can guarantee your employees will study carefully each month? Internal e-mails and the intranet? Notices on the walls of the staff canteen? Perhaps, but most people are overloaded with information and it's easy to miss these messages. Most of us receive a huge number of e-mails each day and have to decide what takes priority. Understandably, responding promptly to a customer query takes precedence over ploughing through the latest company announcements
Somehow, despite the fact that the number at the bottom doesn't increase as often as we wish, we all find time to read our payslips--and companies are becoming increasingly determined to use this. Whether they want staff to know about the latest training opportunities or to remind them of deadlines for expenses claims, they can be sure that the message will be read.
"There is no way that an employee can claim they haven't received a vital piece of information when we give it to them in this way," points out Tracy Smith, payroll manager at City law firm Clifford Chance. "It's a very handy method of communication."
So what sort of information do companies put on their payslips? Simon House, payroll manager at fashion retailer New Look, introduced payslip messaging in 1998. He says that notices on the firm's payslips focus on non-routine pay information such as confirming tax codes. The main aim is to reduce the number of calls made to the payroll team.
Most companies limit messages on payslips to this type of information. The payroll department at Clifford Chance, for example, prints payslip notices about issues such as tax return due dates and deadline changes for overtime. One recent message announced the new fees for the firm's dental scheme.
"We also use the facility to select certain groups of employees to communicate relevant information to them. For instance, we recently had to tell some of our pension scheme members about a pension increase that we had backdated and put on their payslips. We printed a clear message about this, which cut down confusion," says Smith, who sees payslips as a simple and effective way to communicate relevant information without extra administration.
Other employers go to more extreme lengths to ensure that staff read the information. Kim Randall of Rebus Stationery Marketing says that one of her clients puts health and safety messages on its payslips. It recently ran a competition by doing spot checks to see...