benefits enrollment communication
Employee Benefits

Simple Gifts

Mark Fitzgibbons
Mark Fitzgibbons
Communication Director, Employee Benefits

Maybe you’ve noticed — the benefits open enrollment season upon us. This is the time when many employers try to cram 10 pounds of coffee beans (or chocolate) into a 5-pound bag when trying to educate employees. Each year, the Enrollment Blitz goes something like this: figure out how to get as many communications as possible in front of as many employees as possible, and do it all in five or six weeks with a very limited budget. Suffice to say, it’s a stressful time.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. While there are lots of tricks you can use to get employees’ attention, there are three that will give you the biggest bang for your communication buck while keeping things simpler for everyone:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Make messages employee-focused
  3. Keep it simple

Make a New Plan, Stan

First, you must document a strategy that outlines what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there through the right tactics, messaging, and delivery. Then, use this plan as your map for putting order to the chaos. You’ll have to move fast, but following a plan will be far less painful than trying to react to last-minute requests from all across your organization for email, flyers, and presentations. 

It’s All About Employees

Employees want information. But, just like you, they’re also busy and inundated with incoming messages all day long. So if your benefit communications aren’t relevant to them personally right out of the gate, they won’t pay attention. To get their attention, start by answering their WIIFM question: “What’s In It For Me?” Then, tell them what action they need to take and clearly lay out their options. 

Keep it Simple, Silly

As a best practice, employee communication should be brief and clear. Brevity and precision ensure employees both read and understand the message. Thinking about a 40-page enrollment guide this year? Spoiler alert: Employees won’t read it. Instead, go with a 4-panel “guide,” then put the 40-pager online as a reference tool for those employees who crave more detail. 

How Now?

Here are some tips for building your plan, focusing on employees, and keeping it simple:

  • Engage employees in open, two-way conversations through webinars, lunch and learns, town hall meetings, polls, or focus groups. Ask them what they want to know and whether they understand what you’re telling them.
  • Use a variety of communication tactics to reinforce your message and appeal to different types of learners and personas. Mix multimedia approaches like visually engaging infographics and videos with tried-and-true electronic and printed materials.
  • Meet employees where they are. If the workforce isn’t in front of computers all day, make sure mobile is part of your plan. And while many employers want to move away from mailing to homes, it’s still the best way to reach spouses who make many healthcare decisions.

And the title up top? It’s from a Shaker song written 170 years ago, but you may know it as the opening song from “The Handmaids Tale” Season One finale. The first line is as applicable today as it was in 1848: “Tis the gift to be simple…”

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