Commentary: With today’s workforces global, diverse and mobile, employees are inundated with information in and out of the office, making it a constant challenge to capture their attention, communicate important messages and make sure they feel engaged to take action. While every company is different and has its own unique communications challenges, we have developed our top 10 lessons learned to help foster stronger benefits communications:
1. Tailor your message to your audience. Your message will be much more memorable and actionable if it focuses on why it matters to the employee, not the company. Customize your messaging so it highlights the value for your employee and what they should do with the information.
2. Use visuals to convey your story and build your brand. Humans are visual creatures. In many cases, an image can be a more effective means to communicate your message. Start by creating a consistent look and feel to all HR communication that can be easily recognized by your employees. You’ll begin building your HR brand, and each time you send a communication, employees will become more familiar with where it’s coming from and be more inclined to pay attention.
3. Include a call to action. Specifically state the action you want your employees to take. Many times we provide employees with information, but are unclear on the call to action. Summarize in a clear manner what you want your employees to do. For example: Enroll by the end of the month; Review and sign off on policies, etc.
4. Be transparent. Not all of our messages are easy to deliver. Be as clear as possible on why you are asking employees to take action, the impact it will have and how this action fits into the overall company objectives.
5. Use humor to make your message memorable. Humor is a great way to make your message readable and memorable for your audience. Benefits don’t have to be boring; don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it. Coinsurance Cosmopolitan anyone?
Also see: “ 5 tips for using humor in open enrollment communications.”
6. One task at a time. You may need your employees to take a dozen actions, but if you request several actions at once, you’ll just overwhelm them. Create a communication plan that outlines the actions you need employees to take, when you’ll communicate each action and the corresponding due dates. Then, put the plan in action, communicating each message individually so employees can focus on one task at a time.
7. Include examples. Remember … you’re the benefits professional, not your employees. So avoid confusing acronyms and jargon the average employee might not know. Instead, use examples and stories to help your workforce understand how complicated benefits like a high deductible health plan work.
8. Be accurate. Partner with your legal friends to make sure you’re not misstating any facts – just make sure they don’t strip your message of its humor!
Also see: “ Combating open enrollment fatigue: 14 tips.”
9. Repeat it! One time is never enough. You probably don’t communicate about anything else in life just once, so why would benefits be any different?
10. Use a variety of channels to deliver your messages. Email is not your only option. Use your available platforms to get the message out. Here are a few ideas:
- Posting to the company Intranet or social feed
- Blogging regularly about your benefits
- Hosting an informal chat in your cafeteria – offer some food and beverage for extra inventive for employees to come
- Creating office signage such as posters or looping digital presentations
- Sending mail home to inform dependents
Use all or some of these recommendations to drive more positive employee action and get your message across.
Jon Greenstein is a communications consultant on EPIC’s employer services platform team. He leads the firm’s communication, education and engagement strategy work for employers. Tiffany McClellan, CEBS, is regional director, employee benefits at EPIC, where she is focused on growing the firm’s employee benefits consulting practice in Southern California.
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