Every year, you do your best to inform employees about your company’s benefits during open enrollment. Employees have a deadline to make their selections, and your sole mission is making sure that no one falls through the cracks. But, once it’s over, that sense of urgency disappears.
Benefits may become an afterthought as you change gears to focus on the next big project. While that’s understandable, putting them on the back burner entirely until next year is a huge mistake. Continuous benefits communication is key to maximizing benefits awareness, usage, and satisfaction.
Not sure how to do it? Don’t worry - we’ll show you how to get your year-round benefits communication just right.
Why Year-Round Benefits Communication Is Crucial
Before we dig into how to communicate effectively, let's quickly review why it's so important. During open enrollment, your employees get overwhelmed. There are so many benefits to review, each with its own perks, rules, and other nuances. Your employees aren’t going to absorb all of the information they need to get the most out of their benefits package in a two-week span.
During this time, employees will likely pay most of their attention to their health plan, glazing over the rest of your offerings, including supplemental benefits. Skipping those details may mean they miss out on a lot of things that could be very important to them in the future.
For example, many of your younger employees may think they don’t need disability insurance. After all, they’re young and healthy and the chances of them needing this type of insurance is low, right? But did you know that more than 25% of recent college graduates will become disabled during their careers?
While it may not be something employees typically consider, those affected will be grateful you got them enrolled in this type of insurance. And that only happens if they know the benefit exists. It’s your job to get that knowledge in front of them when and how they’re best able to receive it.
Key Opportunities to Discuss Benefits
Since it’s impossible to effectively describe your entire benefits package during open enrollment, it’s important to keep it part of your regular conversation with employees. There are many opportunities throughout the year where you can do this without being intrusive. Here are three:
- Employee onboarding
- Employee life changes
- Regular reminders
Let’s look at each in turn.
When a new team member starts, part of their orientation should be a thorough introduction to the company’s benefits. Your employee onboarding should help them understand what’s available to them and how they can best use each benefit. It’s a great time to encourage them to take advantage of your open-door policy if they have questions or need help. Of course, just like with open enrollment, it’s a lot to process in a short period. That means follow up communication is required.
Employee Life Changes
When one of your employees experiences a major life change (marriage, birth of a child, etc.), it’s a seizable moment to teach them about their benefits. You can open communication by congratulating them and sending them their eligibility for making benefits changes, their window to do so, and additional benefits that may apply to their new circumstances (i.e., child life insurance or a dependent care FSA if a new child was added to the family). This not only alerts them to available benefits they may have never before considered, but it’s also a great way to maximize usage and ensure employees are putting themselves in secure financial positions for the future.
While open enrollment, employee onboarding, and employee life changes are expected triggers for a benefits discussion, the truth is, you don’t need a particular reason to share this information. In fact, the best benefits communication programs connect with employees on a regular basis. They’re proactive, releasing data in small, engaging chunks. This makes it easier for your employees to absorb and ensures benefits are always top of mind.
This is where a benefits communication content calendar comes in handy. Create one for the entire year, and base it around themes. In it, be sure to include at least one mention for every benefit your company offers. For example, February is American Heart Month. You could play off this by reminding employees about your company’s gym membership reimbursement program, encouraging them to keep their hearts healthy while exercising on a budget.
Sample Benefits Communications
Now that you know when to talk about benefits with your employees, here are four guidelines for how to do it effectively:
- Focus on what the benefit does for them (i.e., life insurance protects your family)
- Keep it brief and easy to digest (aim to excite, not overwhelm)
- Make it actionable (define and guide next steps)
- Use various mediums to reach different employees (email, text, video, flyer, etc.)
To make sure your message gets noticed, try some of these sample headlines:
- Enjoy the Retirement of Your Dreams (encourages retirement savings)
- Get in the Best Shape of Your Life… on Us! (promotes gym membership reimbursement)
- Spare Coins? Protect Your Family for Pennies a Day (promotes life insurance)
Pro Tip: You don’t have to create everything from scratch. Chances are, your benefits carriers offer a variety of communication materials. So, ask them first and fill in the gaps as needed.
How to Make Year-Round Benefits Communications Easier
As you’re creating different types of benefits communications, it is essential to include actionable instruction. Including links to benefits information can be helpful in ensuring your employees have easy access to more information. Benefits decision support, like Picwell DX, can help tremendously, too.
Picwell DX is a sophisticated yet easy to use benefits decision support tool. Employees answer a few quick questions. Then the tool teaches them about all of the benefits your company offers (including medical and supplemental benefits) and recommends which ones they should elect based on their unique circumstances. When you provide Picwell to employees, you can rest assured they are getting the guidance and education they need to make the best benefits decisions for their needs.
The best part? It’s free for employees, and available year-round!
As an added bonus, when you work with Picwell, you will receive customizable email templates for all of the key communication opportunities discussed above including employee onboarding, employee life changes, and general reminders.
With Picwell, year-round benefits communication is simple. You can get your benefits messages out quickly and hassle-free, while also ensuring that your employees are never in the dark about the medical and supplemental benefits available to them.
Continuous Engagement Encourages Employee Well-Being
Helping your employees get (and stay!) engaged with their benefits is critical to both their physical and financial well-being and their job satisfaction. A strong communication strategy involves connecting with them year-round, not just during open enrollment. When done right, you’ll ensure that benefits are consistently top of mind and your workforce will always get the most out of the benefits packages your organization offers.
With Picwell DX, you can lighten your workload and rest easy knowing your employees have the benefits decision support they need at any time. Schedule a demo today to see how it can work for your organization: https://www.picwell.com/schedule-a-demo/