HR departments play an essential role in not only educating employees about their benefits, but also communicating their incredible value. A good benefits program by itself doesn’t improve employee retention, recruiting and morale — your employees’ awareness of its value is what moves the needle for employers. The same holds true on the other side of the coin as well, when an employer must cut some benefits or increase health plan costs: skillfully communicating and explaining these changes can significantly improve their impact on employee morale and retention.
Here are five tips to help you successfully discuss these changes with your employees.
Communication is most effective when encompassing the different communication styles of employees. Many workplaces include five generations of employees, and each one communicates a little (or a lot) differently. Text messages might be an effective way to communicate benefits information to younger employees, while hard-copy statements and one-on-one meetings might work better for older employees.
Today, employers have many distribution channels available to them, from online portals to more traditional communications. It's a best practice to take advantage of as many channels as possible to effectively educate all employees about employee benefits programs. Use email, online portals and tools, mailers, posters, PowerPoint presentations, and other media. Seek assistance from HR technology experts to guide you throughout the process of finding the best technology solutions for your needs and vendor selection. One channel to be careful with is word of mouth. Ensure everything is written down and provide as many physical takeaways as possible to ensure your message is easily relayed and accessible.
Employers should always communicate potential changes to group benefits plans as early as possible. Well in advance of open enrollment dates, employers should deliver important benefits information out to employees. Also, educate supervisors on how this year’s benefits package will be better or different so they can emphasize to employees of the value the organization places on their well-being.
Some employees regard benefit changes with suspicion or anxiety, so always try to address why changes were made in employee benefits. An honest explanation even of a downgraded benefits package might be greeted with appreciation and understanding. Sugar-coating the decisions often creates more suspicion and negativity. Just deliver the facts. Employees may receive the changes more positively if they understand how the decisions were made and how they benefit the entire organization.
Equip employees with relevant resources and information to help them maximize the value from their insurance and retirement savings plans. For example, the Paychex 2019 Pulse of HR Survey found that 59% of employees surveyed needed help managing retirement savings, but only 21% actively sought education and guidance about their plans.
It’s a good practice to keep employee benefits communication accessible by assigning a point person to answer questions and provide claims support. Make sure to keep your communications clear and frequent as changes are made to your benefits package and as your organization hires new employees. Having a system for communicating benefits in every situation effectively can reduce headaches and make a positive overall impact.
For more information about communicating benefits and educating employees, contact us.
During the White House’s Summit on Working Families on June 24, 2014, President Obama indicated he was signing a presidential memorandum requiring every federal agency to address flexible work schedules and give employees the right to request such schedules. Absent what could be a dramatic increase in workplace flexibility for federal employees, it is undeniable that the demand for flexibility and work-life balance is on the rise.
Public health insurance exchanges have a head start over private exchanges, but in the coming years, employer and employee awareness will increase, and soon the private options should receive the recognition and utilization they deserve.
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