How to Take a Holistic Approach to Employee Benefits Communication
These days, it’s more important than ever to make sure employees know about critical benefits such as mental health and wellness offerings, time-off policies and enrollment timing. For employers, that means putting a comprehensive benefits communications plan in place to keep in contact with their employee base, and asking for support from their employee benefits brokers.
According to a recent study commissioned by Equitable and conducted by Arizent Research/Employee Benefits News, many employers know they need to take their benefits communications to the next level, and are looking for their brokers to help with:
- Communication strategies for current and planned benefits (39%)
- Personalizing communications to different employee groups (18%)
To guide their clients in creating a thoughtful, inclusive communications strategy, brokers may want to consider the following tips from Equitable’s research and industry experts.
- Encourage small-group conversations and peer coaching. Jennifer Benz, senior vice president and communications practice leader at Siegel Benz, suggests that managers be proactive in setting up structured, frequent conversations with their teams to talk about and process what's going on in the world. These conversations can help managers see if team members are getting burned out and may need a break or if they could use more advice on HR-related wellness options.
Another way to provide the one-to-one support that people crave is by creating a peer coaching network. This removes the managerial element, giving employees the chance to connect with each other on a more relatable level, and shows a true commitment to whole-person wellness.
- Involve company leadership. Michael Keck, VP of insurance and benefits at Hub International, notes the importance of bringing in the leadership of the company, particularly if the organization plans to implement a health and performance program or make significant changes. He believes the employees will feel leadership’s buy-in, and will more willingly attend benefits meetings and listen because they'll recognize the investment the company is making in them. Buy-in at the top can drive buy-in at the other levels of the company, leading to more effective communications and employees who feel more valued and value their benefits more.
- Create compelling meetings. Annie Shea Weckesser, CMO + People at Uniphore, suggests that successful benefits meetings start by setting expectations and communicating to employees in advance about what they are coming to see and/or hear. During the event, speakers should be passionate about the topics they are explaining and clarify the meaning behind what the company is offering and why. This will engage the audience and help them get the most out of the meeting and their benefits package.
- Make the most of technology. Tom Flavin, head of distribution for Equitable Employee Benefits suggests that it's getting easier and easier to educate consumers about their buying options, thanks to technology. For example, employees can utilize self-service enrollment platforms, giving them the time they need to educate themselves using enrollment materials available to them online. Then, once enrolled, they can find healthcare providers, manage their benefits, or track claims online 24/7. The right platform can be an educational hub for employees, empowering them to take charge and ownership of their benefits options.
- Embrace the 5 Cs. According to John Sugar, COO of Equitable Employee Benefits, the goal of benefits technology is to make employee benefits as simple as your everyday personal shopping experience. He outlined five Cs that brokers can do to help their clients achieve that goal of simplicity and usability through technology: Conversation (talking to the employer to understand their people, culture and technology needs); Collaboration (working with the employer and carriers to find the right benefits technology fit); Consultative (bring your expertise and take some burden away from the employer); Capabilities (know the employer and what the carriers bring to the table to match their capabilities); and Confidence (the end result of matching the right benefits technology to the employer need.)
For more information on benefits solutions, please check out the other content available at https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/benefit-technology-resource-center
In July 2020, Arizent/Employee Benefit News conducted an online survey (commissioned by Equitable) among 100 HR professionals with benefits decision-making involvement at organizations with 10 to 500 employees. Employers had to offer dental, vision, life, short-term disability, long-term disability, critical illness or accident insurance.