Who’d Have Thought?
If someone would've asked me a decade ago if communication would unquestionably be something that defines me, I’d have laughed and said, “there’s absolutely no way!” In fact, I think I might have even said that communication was generally a fear of mine. I’m not talking about the kind of communication you do with friends and family regarding mainstream topics of interest. Nope, I am talking about the corporate kind of communicating that is done in front of, or for, large groups of people on tougher, heavier topics like an employee’s benefits. You know, that kind of communicating.
I have to stop and chuckle when I think about the fact that I’ve built my career around managing the creation and dissemination of employee-focused benefit communications for our clients. I am not quite sure I can pinpoint when my fear turned into passion, but I can say the evolution came over time, and it just made sense when it happened. Whether it be verbal, written, electronic or even sky written communication, I am willing to do what it takes to help our client’s employees understand the magnitude of their benefits and how they can use them more effectively.
Being extremely aware that a company’s benefits program is undoubtedly one of their top annual expenditures, it’s imperative to make sure that value transcends to their employees. While the style of communication may vary amongst clients, the underlying messaging regarding an employee’s benefits is fairly consistent. The overarching goal is clearly to empower employees to understand enough about their benefits to stop worrying about the who, what, when, where and why and know who to call when confusion strikes. This can be accomplished through a comprehensive benefits communication strategy and action plan.
Engagement in an employees’ benefits start from moment one of entering into an organization. It begins immediately with employee orientation, and builds as that employee becomes immersed into the everyday culture of the company. If done right, they’ll begin to notice things like posters hanging in the bathroom stalls, benefit summaries at open enrollment time, an eBenefits 360 link on their intranet, a lunch-and-learn on a consumer-minded approach to health care and much more. It’ll be so consistent that it will feel like second nature to that employee over time. When that happens, you know you’ve consistently communicated effectively. To further support the benefits of communication, in a 2011 Metlife Study of Employee Benefit Trends, employees who say their company has effective benefits communications, or who recognize that their employer has improved communications over time, are more than 2 times as likely to say they are loyal to their employer.
Successfully communicating your benefits program to your workforce is critical. Employees are hearing about benefits on the news almost daily, which makes them even that much more interested. It’s time to put a realistic strategy in place in order to become a master at communicating with your employees. After all, if not now, when?
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