Human resource and benefits professionals spend a great deal of their time trying to secure the best possible employee benefits and compensation for their people. But it can be difficult to get employees onboard without a strong benefits communication process.
A benefits communication policy should be part of every workplace for a number of reasons. It gives an overview of the benefits offered to employees and their families, and it provides vital information about when and how to enroll in coverages. Finally, it ensures that employees stay up-to-date on important changes and improvements to their benefits packages.
Benefits and Job Satisfaction
The Society for Human Resource Management found in a 2018 survey that 29% of employees felt that their benefits or the lack of them were sufficient reason to look for work elsewhere. A significant 92% said that benefits were critical to job satisfaction.
It’s clear that a strong employee benefits program can produce great results, like employee retention and a more effective workforce. The best benefit of a communication policy is total awareness of company compensation or a total compensation program. Education should be at the heart of this.
A benefits communication plan isn’t just something to focus on during the annual open enrollment period. It should be a year-round effort.
Communication Should Be Ongoing
It’s natural to get caught up in the short periods of time during which employees become eligible for benefits. This could be within days of being hired, a year after hiring, or strictly during open enrollment, depending on a company's policies. But employees have general questions and concerns all year long, even when they're not given access to employee benefits enrollment. They might want to know:
- How to obtain information about the health care providers who participate in their health plans
- Where to find out about out-of-pocket costs, annual deductible limits, and monthly rate changes
- What to do if they have a question about a medical bill or need help with a dispute
- How to make changes to their health coverage if something new happens in their lives or careers
- If they have specific coverage for certain health-related tests and procedures
- When they should make changes or the deadlines by which they must enroll in certain types of wellness coverage
Benefits Communication: Best Practices
These practices have been shown to produce great results when instituted in the workplace.
- A central web-based technology for employee benefits management: Human resource managers used to be tasked with getting employees to fill out paper enrollment forms, then the forms were passed on to some unknown third-party for processing. No more. Information-rich benefits technology enables employees to enroll, find information, and seek live support. This is a great way to manage communications.
- Employee benefits communications in multiple formats: Communication from the home office should be delivered in multiple formats. Send emails and text messages to remind employees about benefit enrollment periods and deadlines. Give them written documentation to read over and refer to as well. Educating employees with live and online presentations, as well as social media posts, are also effective formats in the modern age.
The Bottom Line
The only way an employee benefits communication strategy is going to be successful is if there's full buy-in and support from the upper management team. Bring all managers up to speed on employee benefits policies and ask them to keep their teams informed about changes and updates. Make sure they have access to the best resources to accomplish this. Get the executive team talking about benefits and how much value they bring to the workplace.