Why 'one-size fits all' benefit communications don't work

With workforces growing more diverse, industry experts say employer communications about health insurance, retirement and voluntary benefits must grow more diverse as well. While varied communications may offer a challenge to employers and their benefit advisers, they also offer an opportunity for increasing engagement and understanding, they agree.

“We have four, sometimes five, generations in the workplace,” said Ciro Giue, vice president and practice leader of voluntary & worksite benefits for Hub International. “While having all those generations in the workplace has benefits to employer s — different perspectives, ideas, etc. — it also brings up a lot of challenges, including how to launch a communications campaign.”

Each group has a way they like to be communicated to, he told attendees of the Workplace Benefits Renaissance in Atlantic City Wednesday. “The one-size-fits-all communication strategy doesn’t work.”

See also: Holistic approach re-energizes retirement plan engagement

For example, he said, younger generations may be more engaged by communications delivered via social media or text message on a smart phone, while “many folks only want to use the phone to talk on.”

Steve Frankel, director of corporate services for the Farmington Company, told the same conference attendees it’s imperative for benefit advisers and employers to understand the census or demographic of an employer’s workforce before launching any communications campaign about health or retirement benefits.

“It’s going to be important to have multiple strategies,” he said, adding that the message and language used within the communications should be tailored to audience preference.

“I’ve read a lot about how younger generations like to use slang language and we may need to start tailoring the language of benefit communications to those younger generations,” said Giue.

“I’ve also seen people who have increased the size of the font for older generations,” Frankel added.

The industry experts agreed the shrinking attention spans of generations raised on Twitter and BuzzFeed will also require a revamp of how to deliver complicated and complex messages in fewer words.

Monika Shvetz , manager of enrollment communications for MetLife, said her group has rewritten communications with specific design aspects in mind meant to streamline the message.

“One of the things we’ve done is to rewrite our communication without filling the whole page with text,” she said. “We let the page have some blank space.”

“We need to say more with less,” said Giue, adding that one strategy Hub has used is to incorporate more infographics into its benefit communications.

While tailoring the message and communications is important, Shvetz said a MetLife trends study showed no matter what age category an employee falls into, they all want and need more help from employers with understanding and choosing benefits.

“The overall majority of employees need more help with their benefits,” she said.

See also: Many employees need help picking the best health plan

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.