How-To Improve Communication Around Benefits

Different types of communication channels including email, phone, and email

Are you happy with the amount of employee engagement at your company?

If you answered no, don’t worry – you’re not alone!

A survey by CBI found that only 12% of businesses today are happy with the current level of employee engagement. And when it comes to communicating benefits, odds are that the majority of your population is disengaged.

It’s not that your employees don’t appreciate having benefits; but the confusing and complex nature of health benefits make engagement challenging, to say the least. This creates one massive headache for your Human Resources department.

In our experience, employers today rely too heavily on a “one-size-fits-all” approach to communicating benefits. These employers produce a PowerPoint, send an email, or provide a benefits booklet every year, and every year get the same poor results.

Relying on these outdated methods means your employees are missing out on important deadlines and offerings, and your business is missing out on opportunities to manage claims and improve health.

So what can you do?

Create a Strategy

The first step is to create a strategy for communicating benefits to your employees. At a high level, you want to examine your current methods of communications. Survey your workforce to identify what works, and what needs improvement. To create your survey, you can use a free site like Google Surveys.

Once you have addressed the needs of your employees, begin defining the goals and objectives of your benefits package, and your company’s role in achieving them.

Provide Simple Access

One of the best ways to boost employee engagement is to provide easy access to their benefits plan. It shouldn’t require that your employees put forth a lot of effort to find the information and answers they need because, let’s face it, they probably won’t. Providing simple access means housing all employee benefits information in one location, that can be accessed 24/7, from any laptop or mobile device.

Imagine tapping an icon on your mobile phone to get the information you need, when you need it — whether you’re sitting in your physician’s office, standing in line at the pharmacy or waiting at an urgent care facility.

Pretty great, right!

Simple access and ease of use are two of the most effective things you can do to boost engagement. Think of this as one-stop shopping for employee benefits, usually through a local server or through an intranet site. No matter where you choose to keep this information, your goal should be to provide your employees with the ability to find what they need as easily and quickly as possible.

Continued Communication

You are dropping the ball if you’re only communicating your benefit offerings during open enrollment. A survey by Guardian found that fewer than half of employees understand their benefits, and hitting them with an enormous amount of information all at once isn’t going to bring clarity to their confusion.

Effective communication comes in small doses at regular intervals throughout the year. Reminders about preventive screenings and immunizations; education about ER and Urgent Care use; and tips on stretching your prescription dollars, are just a few examples of plan information that can be communicated about their benefits throughout the entire year.

But how should you execute on this?

Use Multiple Channels

At McGohan Brabender we use videos, emails and other formats in order to communicate benefits throughout the year. Companies such as Comcast are offering interactive, humorous robotic advisor software like ALEX to communicate employee benefits.

The best approach to communicating, however, is using as many channels as possible. Communication is not a one-size-fits all. Some of your working population prefers video, others prefer to read, and some prefer a mixture of visuals and audio.

The trick is to find a medium that reaches them the way they want to be reached.

Finding out how and when to communicate to your workforce is the difference between a successful strategy and a failed strategy. McGohan Brabender uses psychographics to best reach your population in a way that suits their desired communication style.

Ask for Feedback

As an employer or business owner, you know the only way to become better at something is to receive honest feedback.

Why should your benefits offerings be any different?

The final step to improving your communication around employee benefits is to continuously ask for feedback. Tools such as employee surveys should not be overlooked.

Utilizing feedback can help you measure the level of understanding that your employees have around the benefits you provide. As well, you can gauge your workforce’s communication preferences, or which medium they find most valuable. All you have to do is ask.

These five tips are not meant to be used once or twice throughout the year. Instead, to get the most out of your benefits offerings, you should be utilizing each of these tips above throughout the year. These steps can help improve your engagement rate, compliance numbers, and overall communication effectiveness.

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