It should be no surprise that the past few years have influenced how much employees value their health benefits. From virtual care to mental health and caregiver support, employees’ needs have changed, making consistent and timely benefits education essential. And while employers may offer substantial benefits packages, employees must be familiar with and understand the details of their plans before they can utilize and fully appreciate them.
Employees may need help finding information when they want to look into what is covered and become discouraged when it’s not easy to find. Not accessing their benefits information may deter employees from utilizing their benefits altogether. Employees will typically receive a guide to reference during benefits enrolment periods, but learning about their coverage remains a struggle for many, emphasizing the need for a well-thought-out benefits communication plan to support the benefits package.
Creating a communication plan can boost employee morale and performance as employees take charge of their health by understanding and utilizing available benefits, such as paramedical services.
The benefits of a good communication plan
After implementing an employee benefits plan and the initial excitement of the rollout, frequent and consistent communication about the program should continue. There are many reasons why a benefits communication plan is crucial to both employees and employers. A well-thought-out and executed benefits communication plan:
- Increases employee appreciation
- Decreases turnover
- Boosts employee performance
- Ensures employees get the most value from their benefits
A benefits communication plan can increase employee appreciation for their compensation package and decrease turnover. Employees who understand their plan’s offerings can place the appropriate value on the package and feel appreciated, helping employers retain top talent.
Additionally, creating a communication plan can boost employee morale and performance as employees take charge of their health by understanding and utilizing available benefits, such as paramedical services. As a result, employees may use fewer sick days by seeking treatment using non-traditional services such as massage therapy or acupuncture.
A robust benefits communication plan ensures that employees get the most value from their benefits package. Employees should understand their yearly minimums and maximums and any associated time sensitivities to ensure benefits are well utilized. By understanding the ins and outs of their benefits package, employees become engaged as they feel empowered to make thoughtful decisions regarding their benefits.
Communication plan must-haves
Employers need to be able to communicate what is available to their employees with frequent, time-sensitive, and easy-to-access benefit communication. By doing so, you are supporting your employees when they are making important life decisions. Communicating benefits plans to employees and supporting them through the enrolment process improves the employee experience, builds trust, encourages thoughtful decision-making, creates positive behaviour change, and results in an engaged and productive workforce.
Keep the following in mind when drafting your benefits communication plan:
- Know your audience
- Make sure that your messaging is clear and consistent
- Send benefits updates promptly
- Evaluate the communication plan and request feedback
Knowing your employees and learning what communication methods they prefer when creating your plan is essential. Your employees may choose to digest information through print materials, emails, the company intranet, social media, or in person. You can determine the most popular communication methods through surveys or focus groups. Full-time and part-time employees may have access to different benefits, so it is also necessary to keep that in mind.
Also, you should be clear and consistent with your branding and messaging, leaving no room for interpretation. Likely, your employees are unfamiliar with industry jargon or acronyms, so you should avoid using them unless a short definition accompanies them.
Sending benefit plan updates on time is also an important point to consider. It is crucial to send updates throughout the year, not only during onboarding or yearly enrolment. For example, you could send out information on travel insurance right before spring break. Travel insurance was not on their radar two months ago, making the message timely and valuable.
Lastly, you must consistently evaluate your plan and request employee feedback. You can test the effectiveness of your messaging by measuring the change in employees’ knowledge, attitudes, engagement, etc., through surveys or by simply looking at utilization changes.
Creative communication ideas to consider
You might want to try implementing some creative ways to communicate your benefits plan to employees, such as:
- Celebrating days that promote benefits coverage, such as National Employee Benefits Day
- Hosting lunch and learns where employees can ask questions about their coverage
- Promoting benefits packages consistently through various communication channels such as an internal newsletter, mass emails, posters and flyers; you could even try a new communication method like gamification
- Sharing stories of ‘benefits in action’ where employees use benefits to better their health
Employees who know their benefits package details avoid missing out on a considerable part of their compensation. Regular, up-to-date, and easy-to-access communication puts benefits top of mind for employees and is essential for plan appreciation. Your employees will begin to understand their coverage and use it appropriately, increasing engagement and productivity at work.
Reach out to your Cowan consultant today to find out how a benefits communication plan can help you achieve your corporate goals.