Picwell Blog

Employee Benefits in Higher Education: How to Reach Faculty and Staff in a Remote World

Feb 16, 2022 9:00:00 AM / by Picwell

Let's face it. The last couple of years have not been easy. Between budget cuts, the need to learn new technology on the fly, and other unprecedented, pandemic-related challenges, your institution’s faculty and staff have been put through the wringer these past two years. And so have you. As an HR professional in higher education, you’ve been forced to wear more hats than usual, as you plan ‘return to campus’ strategies and work to keep your teams happy and healthy as uncertainty continues to loom.

As a result, you and your teams are likely feeling overworked and overwhelmed. And, it’s not over yet. Despite campuses reopening, many of your employees will continue to fulfill their professional roles from home for some time.

That’s why it’s more important than ever for you to do everything you can to keep your faculty and staff happy and healthy so they can focus on what’s really important: educating the next generation of innovators, leaders, and changemakers.

In this article, we’ll share how you can reach and re-engage your remote team members with your employee benefits package while also reducing your workload and saving everyone money in the process (yes, it’s all possible!) 

Getting Started: Re-evaluating Your Benefits Package

The pandemic has shaken up the way your faculty and staff choose, and use, their benefits. So, a good place to start re-engaging your team members is by looking at the benefits your institution currently offers. If you haven’t updated your benefits package recently, it’s very possible that it no longer meets the needs of your faculty and staff now.  

For example, a package that caters solely to in-office faculty and staff doesn’t meet the needs of your remote team members. So, take a critical eye to your current offerings and ask yourself: does the institution provide a competitive and helpful suite of perks to all employees?

If the answer is no, the best thing you can do to your benefits package is to update it! Review your budget, and consider adding updated benefits like:

  • Cell phone and internet reimbursement
  • Home office reimbursements (to cover the cost of furniture, monitors, etc.) 
  • Access to professional development programs 
  • Wellness stipends
  • Takeout, grocery, and meal delivery memberships 
  • Child care assistance
  • Virtual financial advising sessions
  • Access to an employee assistance program (EAP)
  • Pet insurance (because who DIDN’T adopt a pet during the pandemic?)

Pro Tip: Poll all of your workers to see what benefits they need the most. Then, do your best to act on as many suggestions as possible.

Communicate Your Institution’s Perks

Once you’ve redesigned your benefits package to be more useful for your  team members, shout those changes from the rooftop! Okay, maybe don’t take that literally. But, your next step is to communicate your new offerings loud, proud, and often. Your faculty and staff need to know about their benefits to take advantage of them.

Here are some ways to reach your team members:

  • Send text messages (with employee permission) or direct messages through your school’s digital collaboration platform. This type of communication may feel more personal than a mass email, which could get (and keep) each worker’s attention.
  • Offer live, interactive webinars about your benefits package. When your employees engage with you and the content, they’re more likely to remember it.
  • Put all of your content on the institution’s intranet. That way, team members can access it wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.
  • Hold a digital benefits fair during virtual open enrollment. The necessary software has grown by leaps and bounds since the start of the pandemic, so you should be able to put on an enjoyable and informative event.
  • Mail eye-catching flyers to each employee’s home. They spend a lot of time looking at a screen, so your physical communication efforts may stand out.
  • Cater to various learning styles by creating and sharing written, audio, and video benefits-related content. Aim to convey the essential information across all three mediums to increase your odds of consumption and understanding.

Pro Tip: Your employees are busy and likely won’t look at (or digest) every benefits-related message you send. Keep communication short and sweet - and share, share, share! You will likely need to send the same information multiple times to ensure it gets seen (and acted upon) by most of your workforce.

Effectively Manage the Needs of Your Faculty and Staff

So you’ve got a best-in-class benefits package and a robust library of engaging marketing materials. But, the best benefits communication strategy in the world can’t account for every possible employee question or concern. That means you must be ready to provide consistent and compassionate support to your faculty and staff as needed. With all of the work currently on your plate, it might feel impossible to manually field one-off questions from employees. 

Luckily, there are companies that can help ease the stress (and workload) associated with benefits enrollment. Picwell is one of those companies.

Picwell offers a sophisticated benefits decision support solution, so your faculty and staff can learn about and select the right plans for their specific situations. The best part? It only takes a few minutes! This allows your employees to select their benefits with confidence so they can get back to what’s really important - their students.

But what does this mean for you? Picwell’s education and guidance helps reduce your workload by providing faculty and staff answers to their most pressing benefits questions. 

We also provide customers with a toolkit containing email templates and other resources that can help facilitate the launch of this new solution to your institution.

Your faculty and staff have been (and continue to go) through a lot, so they need your support now more than ever. You can help them feel better about their employment with your institution (and their professional career overall) by ensuring your benefits package aligns with their current lifestyles and needs. 

Book a Picwell demo today to see how we can help you reach, engage, and be of service to your team members — both onsite and remote.

Topics: Open Enrollment, Benefits Decision Support, HR Tech, employee benefits, voluntary benefits, virtual open enrollment, higher education, university

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Written by Picwell