Before I jump in, I realize that there is some cost associated with everything. My love of economics doesn’t allow me to get away with the idea of a “free lunch” without mentioning that; however, I’m talking about increasing the perceived value without increasing the direct cost of the various options offered. Hang with me, there’s good stuff to share.
My first SHRM 2014 session focused on benefit communication best practices and was presented by Mary Shafer at ADP. Here are nine tips, ideas, and concepts for improving your benefits communication.
- What’s the key to crafting a communication plan? Understand your objective and your audience and communicate with multiple media.
- If you want to increase the perceived value of an item (your benefits package), you need to help the customer (your employees) better understand the offerings and how they can help them to achieve their life goals.
- Think about targeted, timely messages. As an example, “Hey, it’s two months until the end of the plan year. You still have some of your FSA funds remaining. Here are a few ideas for how you could utilize those funds before they expire…”
- Talk in laymen’s terms, not HR-speak. Think about someone in your life that might have trouble understanding the message, and make sure you could explain it to them (a teen, parent, grandparent, etc.).
- Mix up the media you use–email and/or brochures are not the only options! Consider postcards, posters (bonus tip: include QR codes for smartphone scanning), mailings, video, podcasts, text, external websites, or even social media.
- Use employee stories (with permission) to make the options personal and help others relate. Maybe a new parent talking about how the maternity benefits helped them, an employee who utilized the short term disability coverage, or someone who transitioned to a high deductible plan and realized cost savings.
- This topic was recently covered in part in “Are your employees clueless about their benefits?”
- Be sure to measure, refine, and follow up. Results are the key here, not just activity.
- Pro tip: use short one minute videos to answer questions in an FAQ format and post them internally for employees to access. Not sure how to start? Imagine an employee calls you with a question about their benefits. Now, consider your response to that question. Take a few moments to write down some key thoughts, then shoot a video of your response (or just record the audio as a podcast, if you’re video shy!). That is all it takes! Do five to ten of those, then post them. As you get other frequent/recurring requests, create more of those short snippets to help answer questions.
So, what has worked for your organization? How do you communicate benefits to your staff? Are any of the suggestions above of particular interest to you?