Benefits communication is increasingly at odds with the way people are actually communicating today. With the rise of social and mobile technologies, people expect to have information at their fingertips when and where they want it.
Benefits communication shouldn’t come just once a year at open enrollment. You can’t throw everything at your people once and expect them to remember or understand it.
Most HR professionals know this, but just don’t know what messages they should be sending or they’re strapped for time with all of their other daily responsibilities. To keep the ideas flowing and fit communication into your busy schedule, you have to:
1. Be relevant: what do people want (or need) to hear?
To think of communication topics, start by looking at the questions people are repeatedly bringing to HR about your benefits package. These are the ideal subjects to craft communications around. For every person that asks a question, there are probably several others that are wondering or who may ask about it later.
When it comes to wellness messages, what topics do your employees want [or need] to hear more about? When considering this, it’s a good idea to look back to your health risk assessment data, if you did one. Did employees report being stressed? Is cholesterol a problem for the majority of your organization? Shape your messages around the topics that you know people will care about. Out-of-the-box newsletters and communications samples often fail to do this.
2. Keep benefits communication short and sweet
Short and sweet is how we like to consume most news and updates, but those two adjectives are the complete opposite of what most benefits communication looks like. Communicating employee benefits doesn’t have to come in encyclopedia form. [Yes, you have to give people the complete information at least once a year, but you don’t need to follow suit with every follow up all year round!]
Try delivering information on your plan in an FAQ format, top 5 lists, or with a unique angle. The typical guideline for bloggers is to keep their content between 200 to 800 words. This is about the attention span most people will have with ongoing benefits communications too.
3. Recycle your benefits content!
If you spent a long time working on an article, presentation for a lunch n’ learn, or other kind of communication, make that effort count! Find another way to repackage the information and use it again. Create a fact sheet, flyer, or a blog from the notes and research you did on the topic. Consider recording an audio version of the contest to offer to employees as a podcast.
4. Enlist help with benefits communications
Get other people in your company involved in creating wellness messages. If your plan design or wellness program provides rewards for participation, you can offer points or dollars to employees who research wellness content and help deliver it.
In addition to reducing your workload, having different people’s perspectives about wellness can help keep things interesting. For example, you could ask someone to communicate a personal success story in a “case study” format. If you can find a willing volunteer, it can put a human touch on your benefits plan in a candid and inspirational way. One of our employees just saved $1,500 on an MRI by utilizing a cost comparison tool included in HNI’s plan design – and you can bet people listened when he shared that story!
5. Have fun with benefits communication!
A little humor never hurt anyone. Keep your tone light in communications and use photos, videos, and even jokes to mix things up. [Some have even used comics to explain health care info.]
Another fun approach is to tie benefits and wellness messages to pop culture or something in the news. This is what we were going for with our recent blog Even Lady Gaga Needs EPLI – if we can connect a topic like employment practices liability (sometimes not the juiciest of topics) to a celebrity diva in a fun but relevant way, I’m betting that with a little creativity you can think of something that will do the same for your employees!
How do your wellness and benefits communication stack up?
Our recent HNI University workshop, Branding Benefits [& Why Traditional Benefits Communication Falls Flat], talked about some of the best practices for benefits and wellness communication. As a follow up to this event, during the month of July we're offering a free internal communications assessment. Sign up to see how your benefits brand stacks up in this area!