It’s that time of year again. With annual enrollment season quickly approaching, it is important for employees to understand what benefits are available to them. Research shows only 28 percent of employees are aware of some benefits offered by their employer. An informed population can increase engagement, improve utilization of products and services offered, and ultimately, support healthier employees.
How do you get your employees to listen, understand, and act upon your benefits communications? Creating the benefits plan is only half of the job. How you communicate is critical to ensure team members understand the benefits offered and utilize the perks. Here are a few tips for creating your employee health benefits plan and communicating to employees:
Define your goal.
What do you want your benefits plan to achieve? Are you seeking to save employees money? Offering the widest array of options? Or a combination of both? By answering these questions, it is easier to clearly communicate the value your plan delivers to employees. Communications should clearly state why you’re offering these benefits and what your overall strategy is designed to accomplish for employees – remember, benefits are about your employees.
Know your audience.
It’s important to know your audience when communicating your benefits package. You need to know how they like to receive information to ensure you’re delivering through the right channel. A mix of channels will help reach the widest possible audience.
Connect with your employees early and often. Provide team members with key benefits details in advance so they can better plan for the upcoming annual enrollment season. Use reminders to keep team members informed and reduce the risk of missed deadlines. In addition, create opportunities for team members to engage with benefits experts and ask questions. Keep an open line of communication to increase engagement.
Working with other departments and your benefits provider to craft simple messages that are easy to digest and comprehend is key. Complex, jargon-filled language can create confusion and lead to team members taking no action. Make sure deadlines are clear and the action team members need to take to enroll is central to all communications.
Educate your population.
Provide ample opportunities for team members to learn more and ask questions prior to enrolling for benefits. Webinars and one-on-one meetings are helpful tools to prepare team members for the upcoming enrollment period. Using a variety of methods to communicate your offerings will drive action and help employees make informed decisions. Consider each of the following communications channels:
- 1:1 meetings with benefits experts
- Direct mail
- Intranet posts
Establish touch points.
While the annual enrollment period is typically a two-week window at a set time in the year, employees will have questions year-round about their benefits. Your health benefits communication strategy should be comprehensive and ongoing. Create a central location for all benefits-related information. An ongoing communications strategy helps create a culture of health within your organization and promotes healthier lives.
It’s important to remember that your employee population is unique. An approach that works for one organization may not drive success in your own. Employers have the opportunity to influence cost savings and drive behavior change with a thoughtful benefits strategy.