It's no surprise that technology has shifted the way that people digest information. Long, in-depth publications have their place, but if there's something that needs to be communicated on a yearly basis, such as benefits administration, then a one-time campaign will no longer cut it.
To really engage your employees, develop an ongoing communication plan. Check out these best practices to supercharge your benefits communication.
1) Develop a Strategy
The reason behind developing a communication strategy is to provide structure and purpose. Your strategy will be driven by goals which you and other stakeholders develop through research. Areas you could look into include:
• Previous year's performance during annual enrollment
• Ask management about their current employee initiatives
• Any employee feedback you've received regarding benefits confusion
Every avenue of communication should aim to fulfill at least one of these goals. To actually reach your audience, your strategy needs to involve a variety of different communication channels, however, "the more the merrier" doesn't necessarily apply here. Meet the employees where they communicate best. If you don't know where your employees like to receive information, consider using a survey to determine whether to expand to a new avenue such as an online blog, social media, etc.
Don't waste effort on catering to many channels when people are comfortable with a select few. Research will help determine goals and what communication channels may work best.
2) Determine Frequency
The amount of times you attempt to reach your population can have a major impact on their attitude and willingness to interact with the communication.
Too often: You may become uninteresting and people become over-saturated with announcements and perceive there to be too much information to process.
Not enough: You may be perceived as irrelevant — people are not used to regular communications and aren't likely to give you the time of day.
How do you know when it is "enough?" As noted in the item above, research helps. Just ask: "How frequently would you like to receive updates?"
For some employees, it will be quarterly. Others might be interested in their well-being every month — and a few, weekly. Use the survey data to guide your decision. Once you establish the middle ground, where recipients are conditioned to expect regular communication, but are not inclined to ignore the message, you will see measurable results in benefit comprehension.
3) Be Transparent
As seasoned benefits professionals, it helps to step back on occasion and remember that benefits are a big deal to employees. The link connecting employer benefits with personal and family health means benefit changes may carry an additional emotional weight.
Transparency is word that is used frequently — and yet it is worth remembering to prescribe a dose of reality with each message. Balance the good news with any difficult news. While it's true that every benefits leader must balance financial commitments, and employee needs, it's good to remind employees and articulate this balance in your communications. By being up-front regarding future plan changes, it may save time later during enrollment when caller traffic increases.
Bottom line: In a world of consumer-driven health (CDH), employees can manage their health more effectively when informed. So it's important to communicate these changes honestly — even if they may be perceived as unfavorable.
4) Edit for Brevity
Brevity is key to engaging people in your communication strategy. Employees have a job to do, after all, so they appreciate when messages are to the point and communicate no more than what's important.
"Brevity is the soul of wit."
There's actually a secondary motive to keep messages brief — to inspire interest. By communicating the essentials, you are giving employees a taste of a certain benefits topic — thus, leaving it up to them to pursue more information (whether that's provided internally or by another source). When the recipient is in control, they are empowered to learn on their own time, at their own pace.
Spend more time communicating to employees and less time on administrative tasks. benefitexpress does the hard work for you, and makes benefits administration easy — for everyone. Ready to get started?