A Benefits Communication Strategy: Leveraging Your Employer Paid Benefits
Multiple studies have linked employee perceptions of employer benefits with job satisfaction and staff retention. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, employees rank benefits among the top contributors to their levels of job satisfaction. Yet the same study found that it wasn't the dollar amount that employers spent on benefits that mattered, but rather how well employees understood the benefits being offered. Traditionally, companies communicate with their teams about benefit plans once or twice a year, usually during annual open enrollment periods and performance reviews. HR departments play an essential role in communicating benefits' value to employees, by raising awareness and providing insight into how programs can be used. Developing and executing a plan for ongoing employee communication throughout the year can help cultivate favorable perceptions that drive strategic business goals.
The Value of Satisfied Employees
Satisfied employees are good for your company's bottom line. Research from Wharton Business School suggests that firms which are cited as good places to work get returns as high as twice the average on the stock market. Yet according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, only 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged. Developing a benefits communication strategy can help. Strategic, segmented, and frequent communications that showcase company benefits is a low-cost addition to any business' plan to attract and retain employees.
Your workforce is most likely comprised of different demographic groups, with unique benefits concerns at each life stage. One group might value engagement regarding time off or flexible work schedules, while another might value detailed information about retirement options. Tailor your communications to fit your specific business strategies. Consider developing unique content streams with collateral and communications targeted to different groups, such as college recruits or senior executives.
Consider sending out value-added messaging more frequently, over the course of the entire year. Messages should be short and help foster positive impressions regarding workplace benefits. Take advantage of your benefits administration platform and send frequent communications. These should be easy to understand and take little time to read while creating real value for employees. Keep it simple, and try to avoid the alphabet soup of acronyms that are common in today's benefits literature. Examples of regular communications include spotlights on optional benefits programs such as pet insurance, tips from benefits providers on how to make the most of a program, and employee success stories.
Today's diverse workforce includes many different work styles and employees may respond more positively to one medium over others. Multiple points of contact can help you serve different employee groups more effectively and increase the chances that busy employees will read materials. Based on what's feasible, consider multiple options that support and reinforce each other:
- HR Portal: The HR portal can be used to promote self-service access, automated notifications, news postings, and online tools that are highlighted when staff members log in.
- Mobile: Mobile devices allow employers to communicate with messages optimized for smart phones, tablets, and text messaging.
- Electronic: Remote workers and multiple offices are easy to reach through e-mail notifications, videos, and online satisfaction surveys.
- Social: Connect with employees via social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and SlideShare.
- Print: Capture the attention of employees through traditional print message, including in-office posters and home direct mailings.