Most benefits administrators and business owners are well aware that benefits are costing businesses more money than ever. Just how much is health insurance costing employers right now? Recent Bureau of Labor statistics indicate that benefits now account for 32% of total employer compensation. Workers are feeling the increase too, as out-of-pocket costs for employees are also on the rise. And, statistics show that lower-wage workers are actually paying more for their health care costs than higher-wage workers.
Benefits Costs and Communication
When you consider this type of data, it’s no wonder that organizations of all sizes want to do everything to help employees maximize their benefits. Employers also want to be sure that their benefits align with what their employee populations want. But how? Your benefits communications strategy can be a big help when it comes to increasing employee engagement, and helping workers become smart consumers of health care.
Have you started to put your benefits communications strategy into place, but aren’t sure when to launch it? Here’s some good news: the best time to do so can be right now. Keep reading to learn more.
The costs of providing health benefits is on the rise. That doesn’t change the fact that your benefits program plays a key role in recruiting and retention efforts. Along with a strong benefits communications strategy, a cloud-based benefits administration tool like BeneTrac can help employees engage with benefits in new ways. Learn more.
The Role of Benefits Communications
Whether you share benefits-related messaging bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly, it can be a proactive way to engage with employees, and help them discover what their benefits are all about. In fact, a successful benefits communications strategy can be the missing link when it comes to helping employees engage with their benefits. For instance:
- A health-related blurb in the monthly newsletter can help workers stay informed about their healthcare choices all year round—not just during open enrollment.
- Occasional video testimonials on your employee-only social media page can help employees learn about wellness opportunities, or health-related discounts they might not otherwise be aware of.
- An internal email push, or employee survey, can help you make an informed choice as you consider a new carrier to support the needs of your employee population.
If you haven’t started down the path of rolling out a communications strategy, it’s fair to wonder whether there’s a best time to do so. Rather than focus on time and timing, consider reframing the way you’re looking at things, and focusing instead on building a consistent strategy that will gain momentum, and also help you find new insight into what your employees want. Here are a few tips to help you look beyond timing, and focus on building consistency, delivering information that employees find relevant, informative, and interesting.
1. Check in with employees to see what types of information they’re interested in.
Whether you’ve already launched your benefits communication strategy, or you’re getting ready to, it always helps to find out what type of information your workers are craving. This will support your efforts to share messages that they find helpful. At the same time, it can help ensure that your benefits communications efforts match with your larger benefits picture, as well as internal organizational goals.
- Are employees interesting in learning more about how certain wellness perks work? Do they know about your wellness perks?
- Are you, and/or organizational leaders, looking for employee input and feedback related to your current benefits plan? How can your employees help lead the way if you’re considering a new carrier for the coming benefits year?
- Is your goal to determine what type of services and coverage they want going forward?
2. Look for ways to make things topical and focused.
Some employers want messages to be as personalized as possible, in order to connect with specific groups of employees. Other organizations focus on general messages, in the hopes of casting as wide a net as they can. Whatever line you walk, your benefits communications efforts can be a platform through which to focus on events, interests, and specific health-related needs that are topical, and reflect the makeup of your employee population.
- Discussing fall physicals for kids heading back to school can pique the interests of workers who have children, and can also be a segue into discussing ways that everyone can stay active and healthy during the fall months.
- Is winter coming? Launch your lead benefits communications article with tips to help boost your immune system. You can use this same article as a way to plug your PTO policy, and encourage employees to use their personal time off to attend to their health.
- If summer is on the horizon, consider focusing on skin protection, and tie this to the fact that employees can use their flex spending accounts to purchase qualified health-related products, including sunscreen.
3. Use your benefits communications efforts to gather information from your workers.
Data can be a goldmine in the eyes of benefits administrators. When you’re the person tasked with solving the riddle of finding a carrier, handling disputes, answering benefits-related questions, sorting through costs tables, any bit of employee insight can be a big help. As such, you can view your benefits-related messaging as a two-way street through which you gather occasional feedback from workers.
- Does a large segment of your employee population want to read more about flex spending accounts? What if you don’t actually offer flex accounts? Information like this can inform your decision to review new plan types, or explore other carriers.
- More directly, you can include surveys that invite specific employee feedback. For instance, perhaps your benefits plan includes coverage for alternative care, like acupuncture. You can ask employees whether or not they’ve considered using such services.
- If 95% of your workforce says they’re not interested in alternative care, it can help inform your choices when it comes time to review next year’s plans.
The messaging you share about your benefits can be more important than choosing a best time to launch your strategy. Look for ways to deliver messages that matter to your employees, and that offer them the chance to share their opinions. By doing these things, timing will take care of itself.
Building your benefits communications strategy can be a key step that helps you roll out and maintain a successful benefits communications plan, no matter when you launch it. In turn, this can help enhance the way your employees engage with their benefits. Contact a BeneTrac representative, and find out how we can help support your efforts.