HNI HR Manager
Clear, effective communication with workers is a never-ending goal for most organizations. Employees want to know that leaders are being transparent and honest with them about everything.
There's is a need-to-know basis with a lot of intel. But in general, your people have a right to know "the why" and where the organization is going. The benefit of creating a culture of transparency is that when people feel in the know, they feel trusted.
And when your talent feels trusted, they feel loyal to the organization. That's because they feel like their bosses believe in them, and they're treated as if they have a stake in the business, too. Another valuable byproduct of loyalty is that it reduces employee turnover.
So where does employee benefits communication come into play when it comes to loyalty? It's not about what you're giving employees (although generous benefits are great). It's how you're communicating the value of those benefits that can build — or bust — your employees' loyalty.
Think about it from an employee’s perspective:
"When my employer explains to me exactly what I should expect from the benefits — what's available to me, how to use the benefits, who's my advocate if I have an issue, etc. — I feel like my employer has my back. I feel respected and looped in."
These feelings of inclusion and care — you guessed it — they turn into loyalty.
Here are three ways your organization can focus on the how of employee benefits communication — and turn those feelings of goodwill into long-lasting loyalty:
When explaining benefits to a new or seasoned employee, be very clear on what their benefits include. Ban jargon and use simple language. Create a FAQ "cheat sheet" that cuts to the good stuff. Give real-to-life examples of your offerings in action.
Explaining potentially confusing clauses, packages, or elements is critical, especially for young employees. This could be their first “grown-up” job and the first time they're receiving benefits that didn't come from parents. In this case, they may never have dealt with any kind of coverage and need to know the ins and outs.
Giving employees a hundred pages of benefits fine print doesn't feel transparent. You may feel like you're giving workers all the facts, but to them, it could feel like you're trying to hide something. It at least gives the impression that they're on their own in making heads or tails of the offerings.
Two-way communication supports company-wide transparency. Give your people the opportunity to ask questions a few different ways — in a large group setting, one-on-one to cover individual needs, by email or text message, etc. Practice extreme availability to participate in any dialog, and bring up your availability on a regular basis. Employee benefits communication should be a conversation, not a pamphlet read at someone.
Keeping contact with your employees all year round, not just during open enrollment, is a great way to create loyal employees. Take a personal interest in their lives and how your benefits are affecting them and their family members.
Track data on your benefits usage, and remind employees of offerings that are underused. Form a benefits committee made of employees who give your HR and management team feedback on what's working and what to do differently next year. Email, social media, newsletters included with paychecks... there's no shortage of ways to touch your talent and keep benefits top of mind.
Executing these communication tactics will take time and commitment. But their potential ROI in the form of more loyal employees is too high to ignore.
We're in the thick of open enrollment. How are you changing up your employee benefits communication this year? What are your biggest challenges? Please share in comments!