Creating an employee benefits plan that your people can understand and utilize is challenging enough on its own, but doing so in today’s market – where the jobs are plenty and the people are few and far between – makes it that much more important to step up your communications efforts.
If you really want to see a successful benefits plan strategy through – from start to utilization – you have to harness the power of communication as much as you do the power of dollars. So as you prepare to jump into planning season, there are a few tips you should keep in mind. It’ll make the hours upon hours you spend preparing for open enrollment all the more worthwhile.
Communication starts with your team first
You know that now is the time to start discussing everything from your organizational goals to how to execute changes in your medical plan. An often-overlooked element in planning is not having all your key stakeholders on the same page. So, it’s critical that these initial conversations include your internal stakeholders and your benefits advisor – as they are an extension of your team. These joint conversations ensure efforts are aligned and focused on your main objectives and the sooner you can start them, the better.
It may seem unnecessary to share every detail with your benefits broker, but the industry is ever-evolving and they might have insights on a new technology or program that can help support your goals.
Your various departments and divisions may also have their own goals for the year, so it’s important to consider everyone and how their priorities will fit into your master plan. Understanding your leadership’s objectives is only part of this process. Having a mutually agreed-upon plan for your organizational goals is absolutely critical.
Your advisor should be documenting plan options as well as your organizational objectives with tools like a service calendar or renewal timeline to help keep you on track throughout the year and provide ample time for decision-making. They can also provide recommendations on what needs to be communicated to your team and how often.
Regularly check the pulse of your entire organization
Communication is a two-way street. So hearing from your employees is equally important. Third-party employee surveys or listening sessions can provide invaluable information on what your employees truly need and want. Standard benefit plans are a thing of the past and you can stay competitive by offering robust and flexible options for every employee.
Employee feedback can help you identify opportunities to make your benefits plan as attractive as possible for retaining and attracting talent. For example, an employee survey may reveal a need for fertility/adoptive support or PTO transfer programs. Whatever the discovery may be, your advisor should be able to work with you to build creative solutions. There are also many voluntary options you can offer – like pet insurance or identity theft protection – that come at little or no cost to the employer.
And if you need another cross-check, your advisor may be able to provide benchmarking data your team can review to help understand how your benefits plan stacks up against the competition.
There is no such thing as overcommunication
Remember, communicating your goals and benefit offerings to your people is a year-round effort. If you’re relying solely on the black hole known as the email inbox to reach your employees, you’ll likely have minimal engagement. You really need a multichannel approach to break through all the noise.
Mobile apps like ALEX or Benni allow you to send reminders and notifications to your employees’ smartphones which can help avoid email fatigue. Having a digital repository of resources and necessary documents that employees can access 24/7 is becoming necessary as studies show younger generations of employees prefer digital options over printed materials. Be sure to share everything from employee survey results to new benefit offerings as often as possible.
And just when you think you’ve covered it all, it’s probably time to communicate again to all stakeholders. It’s never too late to make communication your benefits plan superpower.