Part Two: The Art of Benefits Communication #shrm14

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Yesterday I talked four specific benefits of having a strong benefits communication strategy and today i’ll talk about different ways you can enhance your strategies through unconventional methods. It’s not a secret that one of the biggest complaints that benefits administrators have is lack of enrollment numbers. They do so much “by the rule” communications and if they’re lucky they’ll receive a small portion of new enrollees, but most of the time they see any change.

Being able to communicate the importance of benefits goes beyond sending out a company notice or having managers tell their employees. In order to cast a wider net in benefits it’s important to grow your strategy into more unconventional methods that reach far beyond what most HR ladies consider comfortable. I attended Jessica’s session yesterday and she talked about the importance of adopting technology into the workplace in order to boost your internal communications. It’s already happening, but employers have yet to catch onto the importance of getting behind a new way of thinking.

This same principal applies to benefits communication. There are the old ways of thinking and the new ways that are already happening in other areas of your business with success, but some of the important pieces of information are falling through the cracks because we have yet to adopt this new way of thinking across the board. For practitioners who are eager and ready to jump on board I have come up with just a few ways that you’re able to expand into this new way of thinking and reach more people groups then you’re able to with the old communication methods.

3 Unconventional Benefits Communications Strategies

SMS

SMS messages have a 97% read rate, which makes them extremely efficient for sending out benefits information. When working with employees and SMS it’s important to get a system in place where everything is internally managed and you have records that update according to employee status. The thought behind SMS is once an employee opts into the program they’re sent periodic reminders about open enrollment, benefit changes, and other important information. Since we all read our text messages the reminders will serve your employees better then a flyer on the wall. You can even remind them the day open enrollment ends since most people enjoy doing things last minute.

Social Media

Creating a private group on Facebook will allow employers to dish out information right where their consumer (i.e. employees) are at. According to research done by the Pew Institute adults spend an average of 11 hours on digital media per day. This means employers can capitalize on where their employees are by sending out information on social media. There are obviously a few kinks to work out, i.e. who manages, how to entice your employees to join the group, but using social media will allow companies a stronger reach on getting information out to their employees, which hopefully will drive up enrollment numbers.

Email Communications

The key to a strong open rate in an email distribution is the ability to offer value to your employees. Yes, it’s important to get the necessary information out there, but why should they open your email? What good will it do for them aside from getting benefits information that frankly isn’t enough. If my company started sending me email communications about benefits and nothing else, I would most likely through them into an email filter. Create value beyond the information and you’ll have yet another avenue to send out information.

Benefits Communication is one of those fields where it’s a necessary evil. People don’t enroll because they’re not informed as much as they should or simply don’t know the value. Creating a strong benefits communication strategy will allow your company to increase benefits enrollment and it could ultimately lead to a healthier workplace.

What types of unconventional benefits communication has your company used? I would love to know! 

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