Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tip of the Day: Supercharge your benefit communications during OE

You're likely in the throes of open enrollment, but that doesn't mean that last-minute improvements can't be made, particularly in the area of benefit communication.

Jennifer Benz, founder of Benz Communications, offers these five simple tips:

  • Keep it simple. If you haven’t already done so, create a one-page Enrollment “Tip Sheet” that lists what’s changing in as simple a form as possible (perhaps just a bulleted list), gives brief enrollment instructions, and tells employees and families where to go for all the details.
  • Make it personal. Resist the temptation to include figures about your total benefits spend or tell employees how many billion dollars per year bad health care decisions are costing the US. If you talk about your overall health care costs, break it down into what the company spends per employee.
  • Promote missed or under-utilized benefits. Put together a list of the five to 10 benefit plans employees aren't using enough -- health savings account, fitness benefits, voluntary insurance, hidden features of the EAP, preventive care benefits, commuter benefits, etc. -- as a one-page flyer.
  • Talk to your employees and let your employees talk. Debating whether or not to schedule enrollment meetings? In-person meetings are always worth the effort. Employees will appreciate being reached out to and given an opportunity to ask questions. Can’t make it to all of your locations? Hold virtual meetings or conference calls. Post the recording online for employees who can’t make it.
    • Or, start a benefits blog and ask employees to give feedback and ask questions via the comments section. You don’t have to be prolific, just a post a week during enrollment season will be of huge value to employees.
  • Get managers in the game.
    Chances are your employees are talking to their managers at least once a week, maybe several times a day. Get “the boss” in the game and give managers the tools and incentive to talk to their employees about benefits. Make sure your managers know benefits are an essential part of motivating their team. Often they just don’t know what to say or how to say it, so give your managers talking points and a quick run-down on why it matters.

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