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A communications strategy can make a big difference 

By Bill Gimbel


When employees don’t understand their benefits, they’re less likely to utilize them, which can negatively impact employee engagement and retention.

However, benefits are only as strong as the benefits communication plan surrounding them. Otherwise employees aren’t aware of what a company offers and don’t take advantage of what’s available, in turn costing the company money.

An employee benefits communication plan is central to employee participation and is something many employers get wrong, but that’s easy to fix. If an employer has low plan participation, a sound communication strategy is one way to help fix that before open enrollment season kicks off. Here’s how:

Before creating the actual strategy, set goals for what is to be accomplished. For instance, it could be having a certain number of employees enroll in a specific benefit, improving general awareness or knowledge of a benefit or increasing overall benefits participation by a certain percentage. Goals will allow administrators to better focus their communication strategy.


Determine frequency. To decide when to communicate benefits, consider when employees are most receptive to information. For instance, this could mean sending an email early in the morning, so they get it while on their commute to the office. However, it’s not a one-time message – to make it stick, it needs to be repetitive. People miss messages all the time and employees are no exception. They will miss the first – or third – message, so continue to push out communication.


Identify the right message. What many employers get wrong about benefits communication is how they explain the benefit. Don’t read from a handbook that’s riddled with benefits jargon. Identify how the benefit will help the employee in their current situation and explain it that way to them. They will better understand the benefits and will more likely sign up. Tailor the message to the needs of each employee and participation will increase.


Understand how employees consume information. Focus on what is going to make things the easiest for employees. What will be most convenient for them to consume information about benefits? Understand that employees consume information differently, so be sure to include all forms: in-person, email or text, e-newsletter, announcement on an intercom system, etc. Get creative, but don’t rule out traditional forms of communication such as posters and pamphlets. If a new benefit is being added, communicate that benefit in person so employees can ask questions on-the-spot. Try various formats and utilize each medium multiple times – remember, repetition is key!

Understanding these basics in building a benefits communication strategy will help increase employee benefits enrolment. Increasing participation in benefits is key to using benefits as an employee retention tool.

Bill Gimbel is the president of LaSalle Benefits.




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