Spread It Out – How to Communicate Benefits Throughout the Year

Employees receive most of their benefits information and education once a year–during Open Enrollment. The fact is, by January, employees have forgotten most of what they learned. If you want a happier and more productive workforce, communicate the employee benefits program throughout the year.

Higher Job Retention

While 92% of employees say that benefits are critical to their job satisfaction, only 61% are actually satisfied with their benefits. One Aflac study found that 43% of workers say they are less likely to leave their job if they are well-informed about their benefits. With the cost of replacing an employee ranging from 50% to 400% of their annual salary, it is essential that companies invest in initiatives that will produce higher rates of employee engagement.

Educating employees throughout the year also helps them understand the value of the company’s benefits program. Most companies make significant investments in their employees by covering the majority of the cost of medical plan premiums and providing employer-paid benefits such as an employee assistance program, health advocacy, and life insurance. When the value of benefits is communicated effectively, it often results in greater appreciation by employees, which directly impacts the loyalty shown to their employers (up to 71% more, according to a MetLife study).

Better Decision-Making

In addition to retaining top talent, executing a year-round benefits communication strategy leads to better-educated employees. When employees understand the benefits available to them, they make wiser decisions throughout the year. This can lead to lower overall costs for the plan and the employee. Increasing preventive care use leads to a healthier workforce, as preventive care services are designed to catch any issues before they become big problems.

Three strategies to implement for 2021

  1. Make it interactive and consistent.

    At Communication Partners, one of the most popular options we have seen our clients implement has been benefits microsites. Microsites help to consistently deliver the latest benefits-related news and provide employees with everything they need to know to make the most of their benefits programs.

    Other ways we have seen clients engage in an ongoing benefits conversation is through monthly Wellness Challenges that come with prizes for participation. In all communications, make sure you commit to it on a consistent schedule.

  2. Create a calendar of topics.

    Choose a theme each month to highlight. You can either create your own schedule or take inspiration from the national calendar. For example, February is National Heart Disease Month. This month’s communications may include:

    • Reminding employees of their free preventive care.
    • Encouraging usage of FSA or HSA dollars for a specialist visit, if needed, or to purchase a blood pressure cuff for personal home use.
    • Promoting participation in the Wellness Program and highlighting any features that support good heart health.
    • Demonstrating how the Employee Assistance Program can help reduce stress, which directly impacts better heart health.
    • Encouraging employees to schedule their free dental cleaning as a part of their dental benefits, as gum disease affects the heart.

Another way to choose topics is to divide your benefits program into categories of wellness (i.e. financial, physical, emotional, and work/life balance) and highlight a different category each month.

  1. Choose a variety of communication types.
    Since everyone learns best in different ways, deploying a variety of communication styles gives you an opportunity to reach all employees. Consider the following guidelines:

    • Make it pop. Well-designed communications will capture the attention of employees.
    • Keep it simple. With short attention spans, it’s best to communicate in multiple bursts of information and give options for the employee to explore more.
    • Make it accessible. Understand the communication preferences of different generations. If your employees are a younger demographic, utilizing text messages and social media platforms may be best. Older generations may prefer printed materials.

Benefits communication begins long before open enrollment. Sharing helpful tips and education throughout the year helps employees make better wellness or health care choices at the time they need it most. Whether you choose to communicate through email, newsletters, blog posts, or videos, it is essential to consider your audience, budget, and overall goals.

If you are ready to create an effective benefits communication campaign, we are here to help!

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