Every year I get asked the same question by multiple different employers. How can my company improve the effectiveness of its benefits program without a major increase in investment? For most people, this task may seem impossible. If you want to boost your benefits plan the easiest, quickest way to improvement is an investment in the benefits your business offers.
But what if I told you there’s a way to improve the effectiveness of your benefits program without investing more money into the actual benefits your company offers. In this article, we’ll detail how your business can use internal communications to boost benefits engagement and improve the performance of your employee benefits plan. So, keep reading to learn the 11 methods your firm can use to promote employee benefits engagement.
11. Define Your Target Audience
Your firm’s first means of engaging employees in your benefits plan is to define your target audience. Employees are a significant part of this audience, but so are their dependents. Similarly, your business can break employees into smaller sub-groups to more effectively communicate with these workers. There are four main categories you can use to segment your workforce.
These four categories are: geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioral. So, ask yourself where your employees live? What are their ages, backgrounds, and income levels? What do your employees believe and what are their buying patterns?
Each of these questions will assist your business to create more complete and detailed segments which will allow your firm to market your benefits plan more efficiently and effectively. Defining your target audience will also help your company complete the following method of benefits communication maximization…
10. Personalize Your Messages
The second method your company can use to increase benefits engagement is to personalize the messages which compromise your internal communications. People become easily bored when consuming information they feel isn’t relevant to them. And when bored, individuals are far less likely to engage in and fully understand the information they’re consuming.
So, personalize your internal communications as much as possible to maximize your worker’s engagement with and understanding of your messages. There are a few tricks your firm can employ to personalize your messages. First, address employees by their actual names. Second, use “you” as much as possible in your communications. Both seem like small changes but speaking directly to individuals can make a significant difference.
9. KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid)
Our next tip for improving your internal communications is always remember to KISS (keep it simple, stupid) when creating your messaging. Try to keep your communications free from confusing jargon or legalese. For examples, because we’re talking about benefits conversations, there’s a high chance you must explain a healthcare-specific term or an acronym.
So, the first time you mention a confusing term or acronym, make sure you clearly define it. And when you’re going into detail with these complex topics, explain it in an easily digestible manner. Try to make your communications sound as human as possible, which helps other humans understand the information better. The clearer and more straightforward your communications, the more likely your employees properly understand and utilize their benefits plan.
8. Style is Important
The look and feel of your internal communications are just as vital as the information within it. If your company skimps or ignores the style of your communications, the message itself may never get read. So, per Jellyvision, make sure your company:
- Asks designers to create uncluttered, easy-to-scan layouts with eye-catching images
- Anticipate what information may cause the most confusion for employees and provide answers the moment they need it, and
- When you ask employees to do something, give them a clear call-to-action (For example: Sign up now!)
7. Set Aside Time
Another method your business can use to promote the effectiveness of your internal communications is to set aside specific time for your employees to review their benefits plan. Most employees, whether you believe it or not, aren’t taking enough time to review and understand their benefits program.
According to a 2018 Unum poll, 69 percent of employees spend an hour or less considering their benefits plan, annually. Similarly, 1/3 of workers reported they spent less than 30 minutes learning about the benefits their employer provides. These numbers demonstrate how little the average employee spends going over their benefits options when left to their own devices.
It’s not enough for your company to invest in a competitive benefits package. Your business should set aside time, specifically intended for employees to read and review their benefits plan options. Spending time doing an in-depth analysis of your benefits is necessary to gain a complete understating and appreciation of your benefits plan.
6. Education is Vital
An additional means to increase the effectiveness of your internal benefits communications is to emphasize benefits education. Even if your messages are consistent and clear, you have ensured you’re giving employees relevant, education information. The point of your internal communications should be to provide your employees with the best benefits education possible.
Because, whether you believe it or not, your employees are likely struggling to comprehend their benefits program completely. Only 1/3 of employees understand their benefits very well, per a recent Colonial Life survey of U.S. employees. And employees who don’t understand their benefits don’t value them or the investment their employer makes toward the total benefits plan.
According to the study, a lack of benefits education can have a significant adverse impact on your business. Employees who spend less than an hour considering their benefits at enrollment time are meaningfully more likely to:
- Feel dissatisfied in their jobs
- Think their employer doesn’t care about them
- Leave their current jobs within the next six months
Plus, benefits education empowers your staff to:
- Make informed choices about their healthcare decisions
- Find their ideal balance of cost and quality of care
- Speak up or ask questions if they have any concerns
Educate your staff about their benefits or your business is wasting a portion of every dollar it spends on employee benefits.
5. Communicate Year Round
One way to boost your internal benefits communications effectiveness is to move communications from periodic to year-round. Typically, benefits communications are clustered around open enrollment or when there’s a change to your benefits program. But attempting to cram too much information into a short period can create confusion and indecision.
When you invest in these communications year-round, the benefits of this education compound; on the other hand, when you pile on this information at one time of the year, your company receives diminishing returns. Plus, sharing benefits on a more consistent basis helps employees get used to thinking about and actively participating in, their benefits plan.
4. Use Decision-Making Tools
An additional method to improve your internal benefits communication is to utilize decision support or recommendation tools. These tools are especially helpful for employees who lack benefits expertise or are especially risk adverse. A recent study by the Private Exchange Research Council found these recommendation systems can have a severe impact on the benefits selections of your staff.
According to the report, employees are more likely to purchase products recommended to them than employees who shop on their own. For example, 49 percent of employees who didn’t receive a recommendation to buy vision insurance did so. While, on the other hand, 86 percent of those who did get a recommendation signed up for vision coverage.
3. Emphasize Voluntary Benefits
To get the most out of your internal communications, and benefits plan as a whole, you must emphasize the importance voluntary benefits can play in an employee’s life. Voluntary offerings, such as dental vision, life, and disability, are critical for the health and financial wellness of your staff.
So, don’t focus communications only on your core benefits, like major medical. Your conversations throughout the year should highlight the advantages of these various voluntary solutions and demonstrate their positive effect on an employee’s and their family’s health.
2. Utilize One-on-One Meetings
Many people may believe the most effective way to communicate to a group of workers is through a group message, either digitally or physically. But research shows one-on-one meetings are the most effective benefits education technique. One-on-one sessions allow workers to ask questions in a no-pressure, confidential setting.
These advantages ensure workers feel more comfortable with their benefits and get the answers they need to make the best choices for themselves and their families. According to one survey, 93 percent of employees who participated in one-on-one benefits counseling found them valuable. Yet only 15 percent of employees are offered this kind of benefits enrollment experience.
1. Begin with Onboarding
By now, we all know the importance of your employees engaging with and understanding their benefits plan. But many organizations ignore one easiest and most crucial actions you can take to educate your employees about their benefits: the onboarding process.
To maximize the effectiveness of your benefits plan, and your benefits plan communications, you must begin with the onboarding process. When you start educating employees at the beginning, they become immediately familiar with your benefits plan, and all the advantages these benefits give them.
Similarly, if you can educate your employees about their benefits from the start, it’s more likely they better appreciate what your organization offers. BambooHR found employees who felt they received effective onboarding are 18 times more likely to feel committed to their organization than employees who felt their onboarding process was less effective.
But the sad fact is, most businesses don’t spend enough resources or attention on their onboarding process. Gallup analytics found only one in 10 employees strongly agree their organization does a good job of onboarding new employees.
Believe it or not, there is a way your company can improve its benefits plan without a significant increase in your plan’s cost. Educate your employees about their benefits through your internal communications and watch as your plan’s utilization and performance grow. Use these 11 tips to improve your internal communications and boost your benefits plan’s effectiveness.