What Are the Best Practices for Communicating Employee Benefits?
To help you master the art of communicating employee benefits, we’ve gathered ten best practices from CEOs and other top executives. From avoiding undermining benefits with casual talk to promoting two-way communication and choice, these leaders share their insights on how to effectively convey the value of employee benefits.
- Avoid Undermining Benefits with Casual Talk
- Over-Communicate and Be Accessible
- Host Regular Benefits Webinars
- Schedule Monthly HR Catch-Ups
- Utilize Various Channels
- Make Benefits Communication Engaging
- Maintain Clear, Proactive Communication
- Personalize Benefits Communication
- Maintain an Ongoing Benefits Conversation
- Promote Two-Way Communication and Choice
Avoid Undermining Benefits with Casual Talk
As the CEO of Bemana, a recruiting firm working in the equipment and industrial sector, I’ve seen employees walk away from jobs that, on paper, looked accommodating. This has helped me realize the danger of fostering a self-sacrificing culture. In other words, benefits are only good insofar as workers are allowed and encouraged to use them.
Take, for example, a comment praising one employee’s attendance record. While this may seem like an innocuous compliment, be careful. You may be inadvertently convincing others that your paid-time-off policy is more lip service than reality. Such an atmosphere can actually drive workers away, despite your well-intended benefit package.
So, speak with care. Don’t let casual conversations around the office undermine otherwise thoughtful communication around employee benefits.
Over-Communicate and Be Accessible
If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people will forget how their benefits package is set up, how it works, and who they need to speak to in order to get questions answered. It’s not surprising, as most employees will not think about them beyond the basics like PTO and sick leave.
Send out more messages than you think you need, be more searchable and present on your intranet, and provide more opportunities for Q&A than you think is necessary. I can definitely tell you that this will not be a wasted effort.
Host Regular Benefits Webinars
While it is still a good idea to have a dedicated inbox for questions, it’s often better to take a more proactive approach. Hosting a quarterly webinar to discuss any updates to benefits or to act as a Q&A forum for those still a bit confused about their benefits summary can be beneficial. Introducing some cases for benefits can also make them seem a bit less esoteric by showing how people can actually interact with them beyond the standard PTO.
Schedule Monthly HR Catch-Ups
In my experience, regardless of how well you type up the benefits summary or how clearly the information is displayed in your portal, you are going to have more than a few people who just need to talk to someone about their benefits.
While you could spend a lot of time answering emails and private messages, what I’ve found most effective is to have a 30-minute monthly catch-up from HR that serves as a general Q&A on benefits, L&D, etc. Having these on a regular cadence really helps employees stay on top of things and feel like they have a better avenue than just email.
Utilize Various Channels
At an old job, different channels were used to inform employees about their benefits. Company-wide emails, updates on the intranet, and special meetings with the HR team were utilized. This ensured that everyone, regardless of their location, received the crucial information.
If employees had questions, they could directly communicate with the HR team. This was significant because people prefer different methods of receiving information. Some individuals prefer emails, while others favor face-to-face conversations.
Make Benefits Communication Engaging
The best practice is to make it a fun-filled extravaganza of information. Sprinkle in some engaging visuals, like eye-catching infographics or snazzy videos, to grab their attention. Break down the jargon into bite-sized nuggets of goodness. Use real-life examples, like Bob from Accounting who used his dental coverage to get a smile that could blind the sun.
Show the stats, for instance, did you know that companies with clear benefits communication have a 42% higher employee retention rate? And don’t forget about personalized messaging. We all love feeling special, don’t we? So, make sure to tailor your communication to each employee’s needs. Now go forth and dazzle ’em with your benefit brilliance!
Maintain Clear, Proactive Communication
Clear communication is essential when it comes to managing employee relations, especially regarding benefits. When these are being updated or, unfortunately, decreased, open conversation is crucial.
Organizing webinars to explain your benefits policies clearly, coupled with tools that allow anonymous questions, is an effective strategy. Middle management should also engage in group discussions to address any employee concerns.
Being proactive is important, particularly in challenging times when benefits may need to be trimmed. Addressing employees’ questions promptly during such periods is critical for maintaining a strong company culture. Otherwise, a lack of clarity could lead to unease among employees about the implications of the changes.
On the flip side, when you can enhance benefits, make it a cause for celebration. Encourage your employees to take pride in being part of an organization that truly values them. Don’t shy away from promoting such positive changes.
Personalize Benefits Communication
One best practice for communicating employee benefits is personalization. Recognize that employees have unique needs and preferences, and tailor the communication of benefits accordingly.
Segment your workforce based on factors such as age, life stage, or job role, and create targeted messaging that speaks directly to their concerns and interests. Use language and examples that resonate with each group, highlighting how the benefits address their specific needs.
Additionally, provide multiple channels for communication, including one-on-one sessions, webinars, or interactive workshops, allowing employees to ask questions and receive personalized guidance.
Maintain an Ongoing Benefits Conversation
To effectively communicate employee benefits, it’s important to maintain an ongoing conversation that extends beyond open enrollment. Instead of limiting discussions to a specific period, find creative ways to regularly remind employees about the available benefits.
For instance, send out quarterly emails sharing real-life stories and examples that showcase how specific benefits have been utilized. By sharing ideas and inspiring others, employees gain a deeper understanding of their benefits and stay engaged throughout the year. This creates a culture of continuous awareness and appreciation for the valuable offerings provided.
Promote Two-Way Communication and Choice
An efficient communications program should be a two-way street, meaning it shouldn’t only flow in one single direction. It is important to take the time to listen to your employees and provide them with multiple channels, such as online forms, emails, and town hall meetings, to give feedback.
For example, you may offer various types of employee benefits, including complex ones like equity awards. By actively seeking feedback from employees, you can improve your communication plans and better explain how these benefits can fit into their own broader financial lives.
Another important thing to consider is that your audience may prefer to receive information differently. When creating your communications program, use multiple methods such as brochures, websites, videos, workshops, and emails. This allows them to choose the communication method they feel most comfortable with, whether it be audio or visual.
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