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How to Build a Year-Round Employee Benefits Communication Strategy

by Nayya Marketing September 2, 2022

How to Build a Year-Round Employee Benefits Communication Strategy

For most employees, enrolling in benefits is top of mind once a year– during open enrollment (OE) season. Unfortunately for HR teams, this can lead to low participation rates (specifically in voluntary benefits), and a lack of understanding and confidence when OE rolls around.

Benefits decisions can be confusing. The jargon can feel foreign and complex, it can be difficult navigating different web ports and managing login credentials. Plus, sometimes employees can be thrown off track by more pressing matters surrounding life and work.

It’s human resources’ responsibility and duty to remove these hurdles and ensure that employees can & do actively engage with their benefits options on a daily basis. In this article, we’ll delve into why benefit support is necessary throughout the entire year and then we’ll give you four actionable tips you can use to make your benefits communication strategy effective.

Why Does Benefits Support Matter Year-Round?

Benefits support doesn’t end with open enrollment and should be a year-round endeavor. That’s because you’re empowering your employee in multiple facets, which, in turn, creates a healthier, more productive, and loyal staff. By creating an effective communication strategy, you can ensure that employees get the things they need, right when they need them. Simply, because they are aware of the tools and resources available to them.

It also shows they are valued and appreciated members of the team. And it’s a powerful tool employers can use to attract and retain talented workers. Plus, it’s an investment the organization is making into the employee. And if they aren’t utilizing their benefits to their full potential, then it’s a poor overall ROI.

It’s important to make benefits a year-round conversation because it prevents employees from being overwhelmed by a huge information dump when everything it’s discussed all at once during the weeks or months leading up to open enrollment. And if your plans include complex benefits such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Health Reimbursement Arrangements, then you’ll give employees more time to understand these types of benefits that can be confusing and difficult to grasp fully.

4 Ways to Create a Stellar Year-Round Benefits Strategy

Using the following tips below, you’ll be well on your way to creating a stellar year-round benefits strategy for your organization:

1 - Use Hybrid Method that Combines Calendar-Based and Action-Based Education

As you probably guessed, “calendar-based” education involves using time-related events or schedules to educate employees about various benefits. For example, you can educate staff about the importance of health physicals during American Heart Month. Another idea is creating quarterly or monthly themes around ideas such as finances or health. For instance, the beginning of the year can be focused on teaching employees about various investment opportunities for the future or how to take advantage of HSAs.

There’s also the action-based approach which is educating employees about the benefits that are relevant to their current circumstances. This could mean providing resources and information for newly pregnant employees or educating new parents about their parental leave options. Or it could look like encouraging and educating employees about mental health resources, especially during moments of global crisis. The real key to success is combining the two approaches and finding the balance that works best for your organization and the offered benefits.

2- Meet Employees Where They Are

Each employee has unique preferences and communication methods. That means your human resources team needs to be adaptable and meet employees where they are. This could mean educating them through various ways. For example, more senior employees might prefer getting benefit information through traditional mail. On the other hand, younger employees might prefer getting it through digital means, such as email or Slack.

This ensures you’re reaching as many employees as possible on the channels they use. It’s simply just another way to remove unnecessary hurdles between staff and the information they need to take full advantage of their benefits.

3- Use Metrics and Feedback

Another tip is using data to accurately assess whether your strategy is working or needs improvement. For example, you can measure employee turnover, employee key performance indicators (KPIs)– such as profit per employee, average task completion rate, etc.– and absenteeism stats. You can also get feedback directly from employees to figure out areas for improvement.

Once you’ve collected all this data, you can effectively leverage it to continuously iterate on your strategy in the coming years. For example, if you see that hardly any employees enrolled in your accident insurance plan, maybe next year create additional educational materials for voluntary benefits. Or if your employee turnover rates are high, maybe reconsider the benefits you're offering to ensure they are being used as a method for employee retention.

4- Use Technology to Your Advantage

Open enrollment is prime time for HR to focus on strong and robust education. This creates an environment where employees feel confident about their benefits choices throughout the entire year. It also helps strengthen the trust and loyalty they feel toward the organization. That’s where digital resources like Nayya’s decision support tool can help to make things easier.

Nayya is a benefits decision support technology that walks employees through a short questionnaire, and then presents them with a hyper-personalized recommendation of the benefits that best match their individual health and financial needs. Decision support technology can help bridge the gap of employee confidence and understanding when it comes to benefits enrollment. Learn more about what makes a great decision support tool, here.

Wrapping Up

Improving the employee experience around benefits and enrollment makes it easier for employees to take advantage of the options available to them, and gives employers the chance to fully showcase their comprehensive benefits packages. Creating a year-round benefits engagement strategy can help keep employees up-to-date, confident, and educated about the benefits they have available to them—making open enrollment season a lot less scary.

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