A benefits package is one of a company’s best tools in recruiting and retaining talent. But employers may be missing out if they don’t do a good job communicating not only available benefits, but the value of such offerings.
“It helps [employees] feel more engaged if they understand the value of what you’re providing,” said Joshua Meyer, senior consultant, national communications practice, at the Segal Group, speaking at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ annual conference last week in Las Vegas.
During a session, Meyer urged plan sponsors to better communicate the value of their health plans to employees. Here are seven tips on how to do so.
Employers should offer a variety of materials for employees, depending on their life stage, rather than just a generic pamphlet for the entire workforce. “You should have brochures for your young, single employees. And for your employees who are married with a kid. And another for your employee who is nearing retirement,” Meyer said. “Give them some examples [about costs and benefits of different health plan options] that might be applicable to their lives, and what stage they are in, and that might help them make decisions.”
Get feedback on messaging before sending it out.
For benefits managers who deal with benefits daily, understanding them isn’t a difficult task. But that might also mean they are harder-pressed to explain things in a simpler way. Before sending out benefits communications to the workforce, Meyer suggests, employers should test the communication out to a few employees and ask them “if it makes sense and if they are getting the right message across that they want to.”
Talk about cost.
“Explain to employees what actions you are taking to provide them care and benefits that are affordable,” he said. “They will appreciate knowing how you are trying to make it better.” It’s also important for employers to explain to participants what they can do to drive down costs. That includes taking generics instead of brand-name drugs, staying in-network and getting preventive care and tests.
Don’t ditch print or face-to-face meetings.
Sure, employees love easy forms of digital communication — from emails and text messages to social media posts. But since most communications are going that route now, plan sponsors may want to “cut through the noise” with print communication. “I think the pendulum is swinging back toward print to get through the message,” he said. Similarly, employers shouldn’t ditch face-to-face meetings or health fairs; those are still a great way to communicate benefit value to employees.
Get vendor help.
When it comes to communicating benefits, employers don’t have to go it alone. “You’ve got vendors who you are paying for services. They have messages and communications, so use [them],” Meyer said. “Vendors are great at describing their own programs. Take their content, tweak it, tie it into your own benefits. You don’t have to re-create the wheel. You have a lot of things out there to get your message across. They have budgets for communications, and that could offset your costs.”
Personal stories from employees about how meaningful a benefit has been for them can pack a powerful punch for other employees. Employers should consider including those testimonials in printed materials or promoting them during meetings, Meyer said. That will make workers better understand how valuable a benefit can be.
“Communicating about value is often about data,” Meyer said. “When you’re communicating, you are storytelling. Use an infographic — picture, charts — that’s a great way to talk about value.”
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