When employees don’t understand their benefits,
they’re less likely to utilize them, which can nega-tively
impact employee engagement and retention.
However, benefits are only as strong as the bene-fits
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 participa-tion,
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 participa-tion
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
■■ 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 communi-cation
strategy will help increase employee benefits enrolment.
Increasing participation in benefits is key to using benefits as an
employee retention tool. n
Bill Gimbel is the president of LaSalle Benefits.
1tjf / 123RF
The Missing Piece of
Your Benefits Plan
A COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
By Bill Gimbel
34 ❚ NOVEMBER 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL