10/16/2017 Effective Communication for Employee Benefit Packages

Alli Walsh, Social Media Strategist

Effective Communication for Employee Benefit Packages

If you’re planning for open enrollment season—it’s just around the corner for many companies—make an effort to ask your employees what they’re looking for in their…

  • Benefits package
  • Benefits education: information needs and tools
  • Benefits communication channels

Not only will your employees appreciate the opportunity to weigh-in on their benefits strategy, but they’ll see that you care! Plus, your results will help match your benefits plans and options with their needs. It will also help you provide the tools and resources they require to engage with their benefits, from making selections to using their plans. Asking for their feedback on a semi-annual or annual basis will keep the lines of communication open and encourage ongoing improvement in your efforts.

Provide ongoing education and decision support

If your employees understand their various benefit options and know how to make the right plan and program elections, they can make confident decisions that work for their families and budgets. And if they’re making informed choices, you can bet that they see the value in their coverage. That’s a big boost to benefits perception!

It’s essential to provide your employees with all the details they need about the products that are available to them, from what’s covered to the cost-sharing structure. For instance, if they assume a product or line of coverage is going to cost too much, they may decline participation and miss out on important protection that leaves them exposed to too much risk. 

Work with your benefits partners to make sure you and your employees have access to the latest-and-greatest education and support tools, from brochures to online assessments and calculators. You may even get content that’s targeted for employees in various life stages, making it easier for your company’s benefit team to provide personalized recommendations to employees.

Communicate effectively

When communicating with today’s employees, you’ve got to meet them where they’re at. That means delivering messages in formats and over channels that they use and have come to expect. Email, for example, may have already replaced the paper employee newsletter. Managers may instant message employees throughout the day instead of walking over or picking up the phone. Your workforce may watch videos over the web and are developing a preference for highly visual content they can view in smaller bursts.

Mirror these preferences so that benefits messages reach and connect with your employees—and can even be shared with their family decision makers. Think of the traditional benefits handbook: do employees keep this in their drawer or do they access the electronic version when they have a question? How do your employees want to engage with benefits information?

And communicating with them on an ongoing basis—not just leading up to open enrollment season—keeps their valuable benefits top of mind throughout the year. This approach can build their satisfaction with your benefit programs because it gives them opportunities to learn about their benefits outside of the “crunch” of benefit enrollment time, when they might actually use their benefits or have a real-world coverage question.

Emphasize the feel-good factor

Who says you can’t make your benefits communications fun, interesting, and something to actually look forward to? Of course, you need to drive home the need-to-know details, but demonstrating the real, relatable value of their benefits doesn’t need to be boring. To this end, it might be a good idea to enlist some help from executive management and other highly visible, motivating employees who can “champion” your benefits programs and encourage employees to participate in open enrollment and yearlong activities. This strengthens your culture—think of it as a benefits-friendly culture—and can enhance the employee experience. And doesn’t a better employee experience lead to higher levels of satisfaction and a better perception of your employer brand?

For more insights, read 3 Retention-Boosting Employee Benefit Best Practices.

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