You spend considerable time and resources crafting your benefits plan, striving to find a solution that’s best for your employees and for the organization. Once you’ve made the decisions and the plan is in place, how can you be sure your employees will use it? Or properly understand it?
The answer lies in your communication strategy!
Most employees aren’t going to be experts on how to read a Summary of Benefits or know the ins and outs of a 401k plan. Before they can make an informed decision at enrollment, your employees will likely need help to understand the options. If employees don’t understand their benefits plan, it can create poor utilization and unnecessary strain on your HR department. But by creating an effective employee benefits communication strategy you can help increase understanding and engagement.
There is no cookie-cutter approach to benefits communication. An effective strategy is going to look different for every organization, but considering these tips will set you on the right path:
- Survey your employees to identify preferred communication methods. Do they prefer paper, email, video, group meetings, one-on-one meetings, lunch & learns, posters? You’ll likely have to consider using a few different methods to reach your entire workforce. And most people need to hear information more than once, or in more than one way, to fully comprehend it.
- Don’t limit your communications to the employees. It is also important to find methods to reach the decision makers of the family. If your employee’s spouse is the one making health care decisions, then you want to be sure your message reaches them as well.
- Provide clear and professional communication to ensure maximum comprehension of the information. This is also a great way to connect the internal brand of your company.
- Keep messaging short and concise. Stick to the high points of what employees really NEED to know. Simplifying complex concepts is critical.
- Make resources easy to find. Provide a painless way for employees to access their benefits information.
- Continue communications beyond open enrollment. Don’t stop your efforts once employees are enrolled. Help make sure they understand their benefits plan and how to effectively use it. Consider regular communications such as monthly emails, quarterly lunch & learns, etc. to continue to educate employees on the company’s benefits plan.
- Quite often the “hidden” value of your overall compensation package doesn’t get fully conveyed and is missed by employees and their spouses. Use compensation statements as a way to share the value of the benefits your organization provides.
Don’t let your communication strategy be an afterthought. What you say, how you say it, who you say it to, and when you say it can have a significant impact on your workforce.