Employee Benefits: Communication is Key

Sponsoring an employee health benefits plan is a great way to support your employees and your business. Choosing the right provider, selecting the benefits and coverages, and rolling out the plan are all important pieces of the process, but one element that is too often overlooked is communication. A good communications strategy is essential in order to maximize your return on investment.

Outcomes of a Great Employee Benefits package

There are many good things that come from sponsoring an employee benefits program. Assuming that the employee health benefits program is effectively communicated to employees, you can expect to see:

Better physical and mental health

Employees with health benefits are more likely to access health services when they don’t have to shoulder the full cost of doing so. Employee health benefits help remove financial and procedural barriers for employees.

For example, if a person is struggling with mental health, the prospect of paying $130+ to visit a counsellor is a significant barrier. There’s also the time and effort to locate a counsellor and book an appointment. Employee benefits help remove this barrier, so the employee is more likely to get the help they need. This translates into improved mental health. The same can be said about physical health.

Better retention and recruitment stats

Research shows that the presence and scope of an employee benefits package impacts a prospective employee’s decision to accept or reject a job offer. It also impacts retention. According to HUB International, 70% of young employees say they would leave their current employer for improved benefits elsewhere.

A great employee health benefits package means employees will want to stay at your company, and prospective employees will want to join.

Better employee morale and engagement

A great employee benefits package sends the message to employees that they matter. It tells employees that their employer supports them and has their back. This translates into better employee morale and engagement. It’s also likely to have a positive impact on productivity.

Communication Strategy

While it’s clear that employee health benefits are good for your company, there is one element of an employee benefits program that can undermine the positive impact: communication. An effective employee benefits plan requires more than good benefits; those benefits need to be effectively communicated to employees./span>

It’s important to develop a strong communications strategy to promote a good understanding of the benefits package, along with when and how to use the benefits.

1. Key Messaging

Start off by identifying what information you will share with your employees. How will you discuss the benefits? What tone will you use? Focus on overarching messages such as “benefits are there to support employees” and “self-care is valued in your organization.” Let employees know that you want them to use their benefits to support their physical and mental health.

You’ll also have to get specific on the benefits themselves and what is covered. It’s important to be honest with employees about your expectation that they will be responsible consumers of the benefits. Let them know how their behaviours (where and how they consume benefits) can help control costs, which ultimately protects the sustainability of the plan.

2. Communication Mediums

Once you’ve identified what information you’ll communicate to employees about the benefits, you’ll next have to come up with a plan about how you will communicate it. In most cases it’s important to use a variety of channels to help reach a diverse workforce. Benefits brochures, employee meetings, posters, e-mail campaigns, video clips, and intranet postings are just a few ideas.

You know your workforce the best, so communicate using the medium(s) that make sense for your company.

3. Frequency

How often you communicate with your employees about benefits is important. The frequency of benefits communications is often the biggest downfall for companies. Too often, there is a flurry of communication when a new benefits plan is launched, and then there is radio silence.

Over time, employees forget what they have learned about their plan and their coverage. It’s no longer top of mind, and they stop effectively using their benefits to support their health. Also, when new employees join the organization and receive a welcome package with a one-pager of benefits information, they really don’t have the same understanding of the plan as those that were there during the big launch.

Regularly reaching out to employees to keep benefits on their mind is an important part of the strategy.

Repercussions of Poor Employee Benefits Communication

Poor employee benefits communication can topple the effectiveness of the plan. If poorly communicated, employees don’t know the specifics on their coverage, how to access their benefits, and where to find more information if they need it.

Poor communication also decreases morale because employees aren’t getting the message that you care and that you are there to support them. This can impact employee engagement, productivity, and retention.

It really does decrease the return-on-investment you should receive from sponsoring the plan.

Accessing Benefits

Offering access points to the benefits plan is also very important. This means that mobile apps and desktop sites should be user-friendly and straightforward. Consider including a “self-guided” tour of the benefits app that can walk employees through how to use the app and how to find information about their benefits.

Mobile apps and desktop sites are often the most common ways for employees to interact with their benefits information. Ensure that these access points offer employees clear communication and step-by-step info on how to set up their account, access coverage information, check balances, submit e-claims, find status updates, and utilize any other functionality contained in the app. Doing so will boost usage and satisfaction with the plan, which has many positive impacts on your organization.

Good advice is key

Does employee benefits communication get the attention it deserves at your organization? Do your employees know and understand their benefits and are they regularly reminded about their benefits and how to use them? If not, you’re not getting the return on your investment that you deserve. Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone or in-person or contact us for a comparison quote.

Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefit packages that work as hard as you do.

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