Improve Your Benefits Communications

For most employers, the number one objective of their compensation and benefits planning is recruiting and retaining top talent. And so many employers invest a great deal of money in premium, fees and matching contributions in order to provide a competitive compensation package for their employees.

But too many employers stop there. They have a fantastic selection of benefits, and pay all the expenses of maintaining them for their employees – but they do not receive full value for their investment because the value of that benefits package has not been communicated to their work force. After all, it does no good to pay for the benefits for these employees if they don’t know what they are, or they don’t realize their value.

A recent survey from payroll firm ADP found that 4 out of 10 workers didn’t understand their own benefit packages.

Here are several ideas to help you communicate the value of your benefits package to your employees.

1.)   Brand it. Give the package a name. Prominent retailer Target calls their package “Bullseye Benefits,” for example. Then once it has a name, sell it to employees like your sales force would sell the benefits of your product or service. Set it up as something that differentiates your company from other employers. That way, every change you make to the plan gives you a chance to talk up your value package to your employees. For example, “We’re excited to announce an enhancement to your Loyal Employee Rewards Package.”

Create posters, flyers and brochures that all use your branding to describe your employee benefits package. You’ll know you’re doing it right when employees begin to use the term among themselves, and brag about it to their friends and acquaintances. That will make recruiting new talent much easier.

2.)   Employ multiple media. Not everybody spends a lot of time online. And not everyone is going to open their mail. Different people connect with different forms of communication. If you have a message to get out, get the word out in at least three ways across digital and print media.

For example, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, employers have adopted the following communications platforms to transmit the benefits of their employment packages:

 

  • Print mailers sent to employee’s homes:   89 percent
  • Email:                                                   73 percent
  • Print materials distributed at work:            69 percent
  • Internal websites/intranets:                      66 percent
  • External Websites: 58 percent:                 58 percent

 

3.)   Leverage vendor websites. These are excellent for communicating a lot of technical information about a specific benefit and how it works. It’s also great as a data capture technique. The downside: Unless you have a custom portal, it’s somebody else’s brand on those benefits, not yours. So if you use a vendor website, do something else, in addition to that, to put your own stamp on your employee benefits.

4.)   Set up in-service workshops. You can have these every time you roll out a new benefit, or at the beginning of open enrollment. If you are adding one brand new benefit, use the opportunity to talk up the package as a whole. Spend a few minutes going over the entire package before focusing too much on the new one.

5.)   Don’t rely on HR to do all the communicating. It’s HR’s job to prepare the materials and support. But management and executives should be visible and up front in selling the benefit package to rank and file employees.

6.)   Communicate the total value as much as you can. For example, send out a total compensation statement every quarter or every six months. Include premiums paid on employees’ behalf.

For many smaller employers, it can be tough to execute an entire benefits communications strategy alone. However, your employee benefits expert, consultant or insurance agent is standing by and ready to support you.

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