The words “open enrollment” alone are enough to elicit a sigh or groan from many people. Most companies drop benefits information on their employees like a bomb once a year at open enrollment. Employees try to understand, but many don’t, and make benefits choices based on misinformation or no information.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: communicating employee benefits can’t just happen at open enrollment.
We live in a 24/7, information driven society. People are constantly plugged in, digesting information at home, on their commute, while they’re working out – 5% even report consuming information on their mobile devices while worshipping. As we continue to move toward a more digital society, benefits communication is increasingly at odds with the way people are used to receiving information.
One tactic for communicating benefits year round is using internal social tools to share information. This can be a great way to provide quick snippets of information regularly to remind people about benefits and wellness topics.
A recent PwC study showed that employees are increasingly more inclined to use social platforms as a “reference check” for health information – 46% report they trust information shared online by those they know. [More numbers from the study here.]
Social wellness platforms are another option to consider. These tools provide a place where wellness program participants can communicate with each other about their health and wellness goals, challenge each other in weight loss or activity competition, and track results. These platforms capitalize on health competition and tap into social pressures to drive wellness outcomes. By using social tools to communicate with employees in a way they are comfortable receiving information, you may have greater success educating year round.
It's preferable to make benefits information available 24/7 via a portal or website so that employees can digest it whenever they want. Don’t just post it on your intranet – employees need to be able to get to it outside of the office. Make sure families can access it as well, since the information affects them too. While in the past this has been too expensive for some companies to consider, the cost of doing so has dropped significantly and will likely continue to do so as this practice becomes more commonplace.
If you print all of your information and give it to each employee, this is not the same as providing 24/7 access to everyone. You can’t expect employees to lug around all that material and keep copies at home, at work, in their cars, and everywhere else they’d want or need it, can you?
In addition to social tools and a benefits portal or website, use as many other channels as possible to communicate your information so that you reach the broadest possible audience. A sampling of ways to communicate include:
While it does take time and effort, the reward for communicating benefits year round is a group of employees with a better understanding and appreciation of their benefits. That’s what it’s all about right? Providing something of value and having a “benefits brand” of being a great place to work?
Communicating benefits is a favorite topic of ours. Want some ideas on what to say and how to say it? Browse our recent blogs on this subject to learn more!