By Natalie Vescia, B2B Marketing & Client Relationship Manager, Wickes

How best to communicate rewards and benefits to employees has always been a challenging topic for those charged with the responsibility. After all there is much talk of baby boomers and Generation X, Y, Z and even C, the connected generation which isn’t defined by age. Now there is a new group to challenge the communication strategists.

Today’s workplace is often multi-generational but the adoption of technology across the generations varies from individual to individual and therefore decisions about the type of communication tools that should be used are not clear cut. While employees may have grown up under different eras of communication, it can’t be assumed that, for example, the over 60s don’t look at social media. Differentiation in social media usage is decreasing by the day with the Pew Research Centre finding that in 2014 more than half of all online adults age 65 and older (56%) use Facebook.

It is easy to underestimate the dominant role of communications in our lives. Ofcom’s eleventh annual Communications Market Report (published August 2014) revealed that the average UK adult now spends more time using media or communications (8 hours 41 minutes) than they do sleeping (8 hours 21 minutes – the UK average).

What this also means is that there are also many individuals of all ages who are simultaneously using a wide range of devices and media platforms; tweeting on a tablet while watching TV and talking on a phone is typical of them. They are a growing phenomenon - the multi-media multi-taskers – and their brief attention span on any of the many electronically deliver messages they receive offers a new challenge to anyone who wants to engage their interest and involvement.

HR teams need to look at what employees have access to in both their professional and personal lives and make use of those channels to communicate. Being flexible, open-minded and willing to look at different ways of doing things is crucial for success.

While the full span of multi-media online communications should be used within a campaign to reach the majority of the audience, a radical and unexpected approach may well, in this online era, be the most effective solution to make an impact on the multi-media multi-taskers, – print; a well written and targeted piece of direct mail in the hand is a medium that has the potential to encourage single minded attention and cut through marketing noise.

Previous research conducted by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that response rates to DM was '10 to 30 times more than that of email — and even higher when compared to online display'.