5 Reasons Your Benefits Communication Isn't Working

Written by Lauren Fischer | November 27, 2019

Benefits Communication Tips

We've all been there. You spend weeks...months...or even longer working on new and improved health plans to benefit your employees. Not only that, but you also listened to the needs of your workforce and answered their requests. You're excited for a successful turnout, and then -- a low participation rate. 

What happened? Why didn't more employees take advantage of the new or enhanced offerings? What can you do for better results in the future? On the heels of open enrollment season, there's no better time to revisit this topic.

Enter: employee benefits communications.

When people don't engage, it's not because they don't want to hear from you. Instead, it's more likely due to a few common barriers. So, whether it's open enrollment communications, the introduction of a popular voluntary benefit or an invitation to an employee lunch-and-learn, we know some of the common communication issues and how to fix them. Check out these benefits communication tips!

1. You Stop at Email

While proven effective, email is not the end-all-be-all to benefits communication. Especially not a singular email. Your employees are busy working in their respective fields, and may not always stop to open an email from Human Resources. At the very least, your email communication should be multi-touch (i.e. a scheduled cadence of emails around an important topic). Depending on timing - work back from the date you wish people to take action - consider three-email series, with each email one week apart. 

Additionally, it's important to have other forms of communication to accompany your email(s) such as flyers posted around the office with similar appearance/tone/message or mailed pieces to further drive home your message. 

2. You’re Not Using Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool to connect and communicate with employees - but this tool isn't widely used. Employee-facing social media channels are a great way to remind employees of important enrollment deadlines or events like benefits fairs. Consider creating employee-only Facebook groups (with the appropriate privacy and contribution settings, of course) to communicate company happenings - or leverage company intranet-based tools, or Slack channels.

You can also use the events feature on your company page to create reminders for Annual Enrollment or other timely events. At Benefitexpress, we find Instagram to be the best employee-facing channel, and use it to promote company culture, job openings or company events.

Bottom line? Continually invite employees to engage with you on social media to stay in the loop.

3.There Isn't a Clear Call-to-Action

When it comes to health benefits, employees need clear direction - and according to SHRM research, 60 percent are dissatisfied with their benefits plan, and 17 percent of this sentiment is attributed to how benefits are communicated.

When creating benefits communications, ask yourself - what is the goal? What do you want employees to do? Is it more 401(k) opt-ins? Is it to increase the number of employees using your benefits enrollment platform from last year? Are you asking all employees to update personal info?

All the information in the world could go unheard without a distinct call-to-action. Accomplish this with clear and concise wording. You'll also want the call-to-action to stand out and catch the eye of your readers. Even better, sprinkle the call-to-action several times throughout your communications to further drive the point home.

4. Your Communications are too Lengthy

Nearly half of employees who are offered health insurance find the process stressful and another 41 percent feel the open enrollment process is confusing. These figures are quite staggering, don’t you think? Well, for those who aren’t living and breathing employee benefits as a profession, health insurance and benefits options can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to create benefits communications that are simple, candid and clear.

Start with the length. If your email or flyer is longer than a couple of paragraphs, chances are your readers will drop off before reaching the end. Furthermore, put the important information at the beginning to ensure it’s not missed. That way, even those who don’t make it to the end will be armed with the important stuff. Formatting is another thing to consider. For example, break up long sections of copy with bullet points, pie charts or infographics.

5. Managers Aren’t Communicating Internally

Handing employees stacks of information before an enrollment period leaves them overwhelmed. Instead, keep employee benefits communications going throughout the year by involving other team members. Bridge the gap between benefits jargon and employees by encouraging leadership to continue the conversation.

For example, ask managers to to send weekly reminders to their internal teams or hold their own short meetings about employee benefits. While they may not know every single detail, they can at least keep the conversation top-of-mind and point employees to human resources and benefits staff for more in-depth questions.

Topics: For Employers