insight magazine

How to Hit the Mark With Employee Benefits

Happy employees become loyal employees, which means communicating the perks of your employee benefits might be key to retention. By Bill Gimbel | Digital Exclusive - 2018

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It’s no secret that offering the right employee benefits can help organizations retain their top talent. On average, employees enrolled in employer-sponsored benefits stay with a company for about seven years, and those enrolled in family coverage stay with an organization for nearly 10 years. On the other hand, employees not enrolled in benefits remain at an organization for just three years.

But, simply offering the right employee benefits is only part of the solution; companies still face the challenge of driving employee participation in the benefits they offer. A common shortfall is communication. So, here’s how to create an effective communication strategy around employee benefits that should drive up participation, and, ultimately, retention.

Set Goals

First, identify the goals you’d like to achieve with the communication strategy, whether it be generally increasing benefit awareness, doubling participation during open enrollment, or ensuring a specific outcome, like increasing financial literacy. Doing this will help you measure your success and be more strategic in building out your communication plan.

Determine the Right Medium

How do you currently relay information to staff? Is what you’re doing successful? If so, what do employees like most about the mode of communication? What do they dislike?

It’s crucial to understand how your employees digest information so you can insert that medium into your communications strategy. Survey a few employees in different departments, at different levels, and with different tenure to understand how different groups receive information best. If you get a mix, incorporate all forms of communication into the plan so you’re hitting as many people with the message as possible (and to increase the chances of having more people retain the information).

The key is to help your employees get benefits information in places they’re already looking. If they’re scrolling through their smartphone, find a way to give them information at their fingertips. This can be accomplished through a text message, direct social media messages, or an email. When deciding what medium to leverage, remember it’s about what is easiest for your employees.

Establish Frequency

Repetition is key to a successful benefits communication plan because chances are employees are going to miss it the first (or second, third, fourth) message. When you push out the message on a recurring basis, and do it in different formats so you’re targeting different employees each time, it will increase the chances of employees enrolling in your benefits offerings.

Develop Messaging

Your messaging should drive action — employees often need to be inspired to participate in benefits offerings. Whether that means illustrating the positive impact your profit-sharing or tuition reimbursement plan could have on their savings or explaining how their children can get quality healthcare through your plans, adjusting messaging so that it resonates with them will help. It’s one thing to tell someone to contribute to their retirement savings. It’s another thing to explain why and paint the picture of how that will help them years from now.

Each group of employees will have a different motivator to sign up, which is why it’s crucial to keep a pulse on your employees and their needs. A benefits communication strategy should clearly address how taking advantage of a certain benefit will positively impact their lives. It answers the question: What’s in it for me?

Lead by Example

Not all messages about employee benefits need to come from HR. Getting company leaders involved in sharing information about the benefits can inspire action as well.

If your organization is struggling with employee retention and employee benefits participation, take a hard look at not only the benefits you’re offering but also how you’re communicating about them. While you may need to change your benefit options to better meet the needs of employees and compete in the marketplace, improving benefits communication first can be an easy fix that many companies overlook.

Bill Gimbel is the president of LaSalle Benefits, a technology-enabled corporate benefits firm. Bill has been in the employee benefits and insurance space for over 25 years, having worked with companies in virtually every industry, as well as people in the C-suite, human resources, and finance.