It’s that time of year again: open enrollment season.
Are your benefits communication strategies strong enough to help employees make good benefits decisions?
The stakes are high. Economic uncertainty, the Affordable Care Act, increased end-user costs and a renewed corporate focus on wellness are all driving the need for better communication.
And now more than ever, employees have to “find their own ways” when it comes to making benefits decisions. Your team is relying on you to provide the information they need to choose wisely.
According to Jennifer Benz, Founder and Chief Strategist of Benz Communications, a leading HR and benefits communication strategy boutique, “Employers have a responsibility to educate employees about making good short-term decisions and helping them see the longer-term picture of how health and financial security stack up.”
Although you may have been providing benefits information throughout the year, here are five tips from Benz Communications for improving the process during your 2014 open enrollment campaign:
Communicate with purpose. While neither your company nor its employees can solve the systemic problems related to health care, simple actions can help you control costs. Use enrollment as an opportunity to promote programs your company invests in that may be unnoticed or underused by employees. Focus on the tangibles behaviors that impact employees’ wallets, such as:
- getting preventative care
- participating in biometric screenings and other wellness programs
- enrolling in more cost-effective plans
- switching to generics
- using prescription mail order programs
- taking advantage of health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs)
Make your message personal. Whether explaining a new program or re-engaging employees with existing benefits, focus on their needs and provide meaningful examples. For instance, give dollars-and-cents scenarios to illustrate how family deductibles work, or offer free preventive medicine samples for individuals with chronic conditions.
Keep it simple. Employees don’t use or understand benefits jargon, so use everyday, real-life language. Define terms. Repeat concepts. Use visuals. Keep in mind that bullet points, graphics, charts and Q&As are helpful. This is especially important as benefit plans become more complex. Strive to communicate in a way that makes sense to employees without raising their suspicion or fears.
Communicate frequently. The gap between how the rest of the world communicates and how companies communicate about their benefits is growing wider. To remedy this, use social media to communicate year-round. Tools like benefits blogs and Twitter benefit feeds are easily implemented with little risk. If you’re not sure what to say, countless resources are available online to get you started.
Acknowledge uncertainty. Quite frankly, there are too many things influencing the health care and retirement systems to make short- or long-term predictions or promises, even though employees might ask for them. An honest acknowledgement of this tension and a commitment to regular communication can help employees to feel that their concerns are being heard.
(Source: Benz Communications)
As a leading CT staffing agency, A.R. Mazzotta can provide the administrative, clerical and HR support your organization needs throughout open enrollment season and beyond. Contact us today to learn more.