You’ve invested the time, the effort and the money to secure a valuable benefits package for your workforce, but you could risk undermining all of that by skipping one crucial step: Communicating to your employees. What good is having a great benefits program if employees aren’t aware of it, don’t understand its value or how to use it?
Get more bang for your benefit buck by following these eight communication tips:
- Build your brand. Too often employers rely on generic carrier materials to convey their benefits. While it may be a time saver for you, your employees are left with a confusing mix of materials― each with its own voice, look and feel. Instead, make sure your employees realize their benefits come from your company. Leverage the core content from carrier materials, but repurpose them into a cohesive, unified and branded communications campaign that reflects your company’s unique messaging and its benefit value proposition.
- Meet people where they are. We all learn differently and have preferences on how we like to receive information. That’s why it is critical to take a multi-media approach when communicating benefits. Sending an email and posting your enrollment guide online may reach part of your audience, but what about the sales staff who are on the road, or the workers in the field or on the plant floor with limited access to computers? Offer your audiences multiple ways for receiving your messages – whether it’s online articles, interactive webinars, video, in-person meetings or printed pieces mailed home.
- Address the WIIFM. Whether introducing a new benefit or trying to explain upcoming benefit changes, the number one question your employees want answered is, “What’s in it for me?” Too often benefit communications are written through the lens of the writer rather than the lens of the audience. Employees don’t want to know about the benefit itself per se, but rather, what they can get out of that benefit ―save money, reduce risk, provide protection, improve access to quality care, gain more control, etc. Be sure to put the WIIFM front and center in your communications.
- Make it a family affair. Engaging spouses is critical, especially if you have a heavily male population. Spouses are often the healthcare decision makers and the ones driving your costs. Give spouses plenty of ways to access resources and information, such as a benefits portal that sits outside your firewall, mailers sent to the homes, invitations to webinars, etc. Equally important, talk about your benefits in terms of what’s relevant to the family and how they can get the most out of your programs.
- Make the message relevant. These days it seems experiences are highly personalized for most everything – why not for benefit communications? Different groups of audience have different characteristics that influence the extent to which they pay attention to, understand and act on different messages. Segment your workforce into key groups based on various factors such as demographics, job type, family status, length of service, participation in various benefits and more. This doesn’t mean you must create a lot of versions of your materials. You can target different employee populations within one general communication by including various scenarios and messages that appeal to certain audiences.
- Cultivate engaged healthcare consumers. A lot of effort tends to be put into helping employees CHOOSE wisely at enrollment time but coaching them on how to USE benefits wisely is how you create value. Create a campaign throughout the year that addresses various consumerism topics – one topic at a time. Helping your employees become better consumers can mean better healthcare outcomes, lower healthcare costs and a greater appreciation for your benefits.
- Showcase your benefits in your recruitment efforts. While it is tempting to provide a candidate with a copy of your enrollment guide when trying to covey your benefits program, you may be doing more harm than good. Instead, offer them an easy-to-digest one-pager that brings all your benefits together in a visually appealing way―providing the “wow” factor that supports your reputation as an employer of choice. And be sure your new hire orientation materials have an equally powerful impact―you only have one chance to make a strong first impression!
- Branch out beyond open enrollment. Strong benefit communications is a year-round commitment. With a little planning you can develop communication campaigns that keep your benefits program, and the value it offers – front and center all year long.
Need assistance? Challenges such as capacity constraints, compressed timeframes and competing demands can complicate or derail the best-laid communication efforts. But we are here to help. Whether it’s establishing a communications game plan, draft materials, provide graphic design support, develop and lead training, or create a video, we can help boost the return on your benefit investment.
Contact us today to learn more.
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