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Bottom Line on Employee Benefits Communication

Posted by Chip Abernathy Aug 23, 2010 11:15:00 PM

Getting ready for open enrollment? Here are a few tips to help you communicate with your employees or your client’s employees, and some pitfalls to avoid.

Bottom Line on Employee Benefits Communication

employee_benefits_communicationOverwhelming, inundated, confusing, and complicated.  These are words often used by  employees describing their company’s enrollment process. When it comes to enrollment it is critical to focus on making it easy for employees to find the information they need, understand what they need to do, and by when. All too often companies use this event  as the one opportunity to communicate everything benefits.

The good news is that there are things you can do to differentiate your firm and create enrollment communication that answers questions – not create questions. Here are some questions to ask yourself, before you unload enrollment communication.

1. Are you providing information or education? The most important question to ask yourself is whether or not you are providing information or education.  Are you simply delivering a carriers ‘big white envelop” to employees?  Most carrier packets are filled with benefit summaries and forms, with very little thought to providing tools to help employees make the best decisions for their situation. This approach requires employees to put together all the pieces and does not answer the question “so, what does this mean to me?” Take the time to help employees ask themselves the right questions and understand how the changes impact them. You will help your clients develop trust with their employees by doing so.

2. Are you making employees search for information? More often than not, enrollment communication requires employees to search for important details such as: key dates, changes to benefits, how to enroll, when to enroll, who to call with questions, etc. Bring the key questions and answers to the front of the enrollment materials.  Doing this will create a call to action and prevent employees from having to search for important information.

3.  Are you afraid to address cost increases? We all know that the very first thing employees look for are the new premiums. Do yourself and employees a favor and address cost increases upfront.  It does no good to hide it or spin the message. It is what it is.  You should put any cost increases in context – what is causing the cost increases? What tools do employees have to help mitigate cost increases in the future?  What can employees do to help keep costs down?

The most effective communication will address the key issues upfront and create a conversation with employees.  When you start thinking of your human capital as “people” great things will happen.  Give it a try. If you need some help, give Touchpoints a call – this is the stuff we do day in and day out – and it is what we love.

PS.  Keep this in mind with health care reform.  Employees want to know the impact of PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.)  Most brokers have reached out to management team with the employer groups.  Have you taken the next step and relayed the impact to the employee?  Even if it is to tell them you are working on the answers.  Fill in the blanks and let them know.



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Touchpoints was founded in 2009 by consultants with a combined 60 plus years of HR, employee benefit communication, organizational development and change management experience. Built on a foundation of best practices, we help our business clients take complex ideas, messages and programs, and make them easy to understand. We deliver sustainable, targeted, results-oriented communication.

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