Communication – A Year-Round Pastime
Communicating Your Benefits During Open Enrollment
During the open enrollment season, employers tend to communicate a ton about benefit programs. Employees may feel inundated at that time, but they’re better for it in the long run, even if they don’t realize it. It’s the months that follow open enrollment where we tend to see communication dissipate and employees start to disengage from this extremely important aspect of their lives. I’ve said it before, communicating about benefits has got to be year-round for optimal engagement and understanding.
Here are some tips to make your benefit communications more effective, purposeful and sustainable – regularly, not just during open enrollment:
Keep it simple. Employees tend to feel overwhelmed pretty easily, around a topic as complex as their benefits. Keep communications simple and direct.
Remember that your benefits matter. Make sure your employees understand the significance of the benefits they’re being offered. Be thoughtful in how you convey that importance. Try to educate in a way that helps employees feel supported by their benefits. For instance, if you’re telling employees that practicing consumerism can help them reduce their out-of-pocket costs, give them an example or scenario that resonates. “Using generic drugs instead of brand name prescriptions could put an extra $500 in your pocket each year,” instead of “The cost of brand name drugs is three times that of generic drugs and adds $800,000 a year to our healthcare costs.”
Draw attention to what’s underutilized. You want your employees to use all the benefits they’re being offered. The months following open enrollment are a great time to highlight all of them. Put together a list of the five or so benefits employees are either not utilizing at all or in the right way. Think about things like the hidden features of your EAP, opening up an HSA, promoting voluntary life, commuter benefits, etc. and create buzz. Whether it’s repurposing your summary of benefits used mainly for open enrollment, or creating a whole new one-pager to highlight these benefits, make sure your employees see the breadth of your benefits package as a true benefit to them.
Ask for feedback. Wondering if there are any gaps in understanding the benefits? Just ask! A thoughtful survey, focus group or quick pulse check can do wonders in helping you know where the focus should lie. Take the guessing out of what needs to be communicated altogether. They’ll tell you what they don’t understand.
Create the correlation between benefits and your bottom line. Consider helping your employees understand the “why” behind your benefits package. Benefits are a large part of an employee’s total compensation – often 20-30 percent – yet rarely do we communicate the company’s commitment or rationale behind the benefits that are annually offered. Have you ever thought about it yourself? It’s a big corporate expense to offer competitive benefits. Help everyone in the organization understand the big picture around the why.
Communicating regularly is certainly not easy but it is important. Be heard year-round and reap the benefits of a more educated and engaged employee population. And know we’re here to help along the way!
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- It's Open Enrollment Time... Again (Part 2)
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- Good Things Come in Small Packages
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