|October 2023 Volume 21, Number 10
Seven Strategies for Helping Employees Understand Their Benefits
A recent survey found that 81% of employees want more information about company-sponsored benefits throughout the year, yet 47% don’t know enough to make informed choices during open enrollment. With open enrollment season approaching, human resources teams may want to look at some new strategies to close these communication gaps.
1. Use Multiple Communication Channels
Tailoring messaging and communication channels to different employee demographics is key. For instance, frequent text messages and social media suit millennial staffers, while printed materials and in-person meetings work better for older employees nearing retirement. Varying communication methods also reach those with different learning styles.
2. Communicate Year-Round
Tying benefits information to current events provides opportunities for year-round communication. For example, headlines about student loan forgiveness allow reminders about legal services benefits. Brief, nonpartisan explanations of hot topics like immigration policies or rising care costs reinforce the value of benefits packages outside of open enrollment.
3. Target Major Life Events
Proactively sharing benefits information during major life events allows HR to tailor messaging when employees need it most. For example, the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse significantly impacts benefit needs and choices. HR should provide relevant info and reminders during these pivotal times.
4. Leverage Employee Resource Groups
Employee resource groups centered around specific demographics like working parents or employees with disabilities often focus on issues tied to benefits. Encouraging these groups to share peer-to-peer benefits guidance tailored to their members’ needs boosts understanding. Who better to explain the value of family leave policies than a working parents group?
5. Mind the Timing, Costs, and Tools
HR should provide benefits information early enough for employees to digest before open enrolment but not so far in advance that they forget details. Clearly communicating employee out-of-pocket costs for each plan also helps workers comparison shop options.
6. Track Metrics
HR teams should analyze open enrollment data like plan selection trends, website traffic, email open rates, form submissions, and call volume. Compare year-over-year metrics to see if new communication approaches improve engagement and informed choices.
7. Make Communication Ongoing
Treating benefits education as a continuous, year-round process rather than a once-a-year event during open enrollment season is crucial. Employees can’t absorb all plan details in a short timeframe when their focus is elsewhere.