Communicate Benefits All Year Long

Your employees love talking about benefits, right? And they must love researching benefits too. Wait, they don’t? According to a recent benefits report from Aflac, they’re not alone.

In fact, as the report points out:

  • More than 80% of surveyed employees spend less than an hour researching benefits.
  • Many others claim that they don’t do any research at all.
  • Plenty of employees would rather file taxes, stay on hold on a phone call, or deal with a screaming baby than have to research benefits.

In other words, lots of people would rather do anything other than research benefits. Why?

How do employees engage with benefits?

By the time open enrollment comes around, it would be great if employees were geared up to talk about options, and make changes to their coverage. But, as often is the case, only a small percentage of employees are plugged into benefits all year. And many employees don’t even know what options are available to them, even during open enrollment.

Educating employees about benefits can help do away with roadblocks or misunderstandings about coverage. How can you put useful information in front of them all year?

As the plan administrator, you want to keep benefits information fresh and interesting, without becoming redundant, or overwhelming. And, to communicate employee benefits information effectively and consistently, you want to provide relevant information without losing your employees’ attention.

So, how can you strike an ideal balance? Below, we offer three tips that can help make benefits communications a successful, year-long endeavor.

Are your employees thinking about benefits all year round, or just during open enrollment? Keeping them interested and engaged can help make open enrollment easier, and having benefits administration software puts more tools in their hands.

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How do you talk about benefits?

Following a benefits communications strategy can help your employees engage with their benefits throughout the year. But for many benefits administrators, that might be easier said than done, especially when you factor in how busy you already are.

Still, making benefits part of a year-long conversation—and not just something that comes up during open enrollment—can help inspire a more engaged workforce. Here are three tips to help you deliver the benefits message, and keep conversations going:

1. Give your employees a way to manage portion control.

For years, study after study has claimed that the human attention span keeps getting shorter. On top of that, today’s workers are already pressed for time, and pulled in dozens of directions every day.

Keeping these two factors in mind, consider a communication approach that lets employees decide how much information they want to take in, and when they want to consume it:

  • As best you can, keep messages short, whether you’re communicating by email, company newsletter, or an internal project management messaging tool.
  • Include links to articles that employees can forward to themselves, or read on their own time—if they choose to do so.
  • If possible, add a brief abstract when linking to a longer article about health, benefits trends, or is specifically related to a coverage option your company offers.
  • A bright, visual representation – with copy broken up into short, readable sections – grab readers’ attention better than long paragraphs of copy.

2. Check in, but don’t be disappointed if employees are less-than enthused.

We mentioned the hectic workday above. What about life outside of work? Whether your employees are the heads of busy households, empty-nesters, or people who are just starting out, life is probably keeping them busy enough. As such, staying up on health benefits might barely scratch the surface of their attention.

Should you fret about this? Not at all.

Use check-ins to gather input about their preferred communications style. For instance:

  • Is your monthly benefits message going out on third Wednesday of every month? Would your employees be more receptive if they received it on a Friday morning, so they could read things over the weekend?
  • Also, ask them what types of content they find most interesting or helpful. For instance, do personal stories about local people draw them in more than global-focused health news? Or is it the opposite? Use their feedback to help guide your next benefits message.
  • Finally, what’s the best communications method? Do they want yet another email? Would they rather you use the messaging or chat features on the company’s project management software, or launch an internal social media site dedicated exclusively to benefits information?

3. Find ways to get creative when you communicate.

If employees already feel overwhelmed, then the last thing they might want is one more thing to read or think about. If your benefits message comes across as too dry, or feels like homework, there’s a chance it’ll get the dreaded “mark for later” label in employees’ inboxes…and later might never come.

Here are a few ways to keep the message creative and snackable for busy workers:

  • Instead of sending a long monthly email with a bunch of links, break things up. Send out shorter, snappier messages throughout the month. Or post these messages using chat or social features.
  • Don’t be afraid to be self-effacing in your language. A lighthearted subject line like, “yep, it’s another message about benefits,” might inspire a chuckle, and prompt employees to open the email.
  • Speaking of reading, is it necessary for employees to read benefits messages? If you have the time and tools at your disposal, find ways to create micro videos that help you share your benefits message.

Let’s face it—thinking about benefits might never be anyone’s idea of a fun way to spend an evening. However, when you make benefits an ongoing part of your internal communications, you could make a fundamental shift in employee engagement and education.

The next open enrollment period doesn’t have to be the only time that employees engage with benefits. Many companies turn to benefits administration software for employee-friendly features that help them manage and update personal information when they need to, and be more involved in the process. Contact a BeneTrac representative to discover more.

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