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Making the 10 Keys Work for You


Join Segal Benz Senior Vice President and Communications Leader Jennifer Benz and Vice President and Engagement Strategist Megan Yost for this live working session to help you fine-tune your own benefits communication strategy. Based on the 10 Keys to Unlocking Successful Benefits Communication, they’ll guide you step by step through the 10-keys framework, helping you prioritize and focus your efforts for your year ahead.

Plus, the worksheet will help you identify where your communication strategy is working well, where it needs to be adjusted, and what you can do differently to achieve your desired results.

In this webinar, you'll learn:

  • How to apply our 10-keys framework to your organization
  • Where to focus your time, resources, and budget
  • What to prioritize to drive higher engagement and get results

This webinar was recorded on April 29, 2021. View the full transcript below.


Making the 10 Keys Work for You

Webinar Transcript:

Jen: Hey, everyone, thanks for joining us. It’s just the top of the hour right now and we will give everyone a couple of minutes to get on Zoom, and we’ll get started shortly. If you haven’t yet opened it, you should have gotten a worksheet in your email this morning that looks like this, a PDF, and it came from me, Jen Benz, and you can pull that up in your email and follow along on the worksheet if you’d like. Looks like lots more people are logging on so we’ll give everyone a couple more minutes.

Hi again, everyone. If you’ve just logged on, we’re going to give folks just another moment to get online then we’ll get started. Okay, maybe we should go ahead and jump in. Welcome, everybody, this is Making the 10 Keys Work for You. We are very excited that you’ve joined us this morning to go through this webinar and online workshop. We’re going to have a lot of fun and a lot of conversation. I’m Jen Benz, I lead the communications practice at Segal Benz, part of the Segal Group, and I’m joined by my colleague Megan today. Hi, Megan.

Megan: Hello. Welcome, everyone.

Jen: We are thrilled that you’ve joined us. We are going to make this an ongoing dialogue today with lots to cover. We’re going to go through our 10 keys, and as I mentioned a moment ago if you logged on early, you should have received a PDF of this worksheet in your email this morning. So if you haven’t found that document yet, you might want to download it and follow along with us there. And we’ll be going through that, and we will get your feedback along the way, so we’ll have lots of polls and lots of opportunity for you all to share. Please put your questions in as we go, I already see one person is using the Q and A function, and we’ll answer your questions along the way as well.

So, thanks again for joining, and we’ll jump right in. Megan, I think we already looked at the slide, we already introduced ourselves, so that’s me and Megan. We’re going to talk a little bit about us, talk about overall how we drive engagement with benefits and HR programs, and then we’re going to go through our 10 keys to successful benefits communication one by one. And this is where we’re going to get lots of feedback from you. You’re going to be able to fill out the worksheet, and by the end of this webinar, you’re going to have a really good sense of where you are doing things well and really following all the best practices and then where there might be areas of opportunity and where you can focus some energy to improve. And we should have some time at the end for Q and A, but we will take questions along the way, so please pop them into the Q and A function as we go.

So, a little bit about us before we get started, we always love to share this statement when we’re talking to new people that we help great organizations inspire people to improve their health, their finances, and their futures. And this work of really getting people engaged in benefits and HR programs is what I’ve done my whole career. It’s really exciting work and we love this work because this is really important, complicated stuff. And it’s really important in this moment, if you’ve listened to our prior webinars earlier in the year, we’ve been talking a lot about just how much is changing right now and all of the different things that we need to keep up with and all the ways that people want their employers to support them in this moment. And that is making it a really important time for us to help get people engaged in their benefits, and an exciting time to be doing what we get to do.

So, with that, I’m going to pass it to Megan to talk a little bit about how we drive engagement and why this is so darn complicated.

Megan: Yeah, well, thank you, everyone, for joining us today and taking the time to be part of this interactive workshop. We’re really excited to have you with us and before we talk about the ways to drive engagement, we really have to focus on the barriers and obstacles that thwart our best intentions and prevent us from making some of the best choices about our health and our finances.
So there are a lot of cognitive and behavioral areas that we all suffer from as human beings and the way that our brains are wired, and some of the things that cause us to stumble or get in our way are, one, we have a difficult time imagining the future and we make assumptions, and we use our best guesses about our future state, but a lot of research has shown that our future self is really almost like a foreign person to our current self. And so that is a whole topic that we could spend lots of time talking about, but we’ll talk about some of the other obstacles that we face as well here and now, and that includes health and financial literacy levels, which are very low across the country.

There’s so much jargon that slips through communications because of the legal nature of some of the documents and so forth that makes it really hard for people to access information. Additionally, a lot of these decisions involves math and trying to calculate cost in the present state as well as cost to ourselves in the future, which is also challenging for many reasons and people really don’t often want to crunch the numbers. We have competing priorities, so you think about our financial needs, we’re trying to save for a rainy day, we’re trying to pay down student loans, and we’re trying to save for retirement all at the same time, or we’re trying to make daycare expenses and juggle all of these things at the same time as well as competing priorities just in our lives in terms of all of the different things that are demanding of our time.

And on top of that, we have information overload. We’re saturated with information from work, in our personal lives, with all of the changes and flux that we’re experiencing at the moment. And finally, trust. Trust plays a significant role in our health and our decisions about our finances, and study after study shows that we generally trust information that comes from our employers about our benefits as well as the providers and the resources that our employers make available to us, that we take those as endorsements. So that’s a really important role that you play in providing these resources and information to your people and participants, and so you have a significant responsibility in terms of helping people make these really complex decisions.

In addition to that, people feel very intimidated about choosing benefits. So these are some old Twitter posts about open enrollment in particular. So we have one from Complex Mom, and she says, "Open enrollment completed, I never am entirely confident in my choices." Below that, Molly says, "Most days I feel comfortably intelligent, the day I have to read through open enrollment healthcare literature is not one of those days." And finally, Jim says, "Now got to go figure out my open enrollment choices, Einstein would give up on this one."

On top of that, people are stressed by their finances and PricewaterhouseCoopers has done a long running study on financial wellness, and they consistently find that financial and money matters are people’s top sources of stress. And this I think has been exacerbated over the past year where people may have lost a job or households may have seen reduced hours, furloughed work and so forth. So there’s a lot of needs that your people have. And all of this causes us to exhibit certain behaviors, often people do nothing, this is the inertia you see in your plan where they pick the same health plan year after year or they go along with the default in the retirement plan.

It’s also why people procrastinate and they wait until the last minute, so deadlines are a good thing, they can help get people to take action. Often people can make suboptimal choices, you see this a lot in the retirement plan where people might make a naïve decision to invest in all of the funds in the 401(k) or the 403(b), for example. But that really isn’t true diversification and it’s not using the funds as they’re meant to be used. And it causes us to doubt our decisions, so you think back to one of those Twitter posts, and the person who said that they’re not confident about their decisions.

So, if this is the mindset we know people have, how do we help them feel more confident and help reach them and cut through all this noise and all of the different obstacles that they face, and this is one of the reasons why we have the 10 keys to successful benefits communication. So I’ll let Jen share more about the philosophy and the components of our 10 keys.

Jen: Thanks, Megan. So, we created this framework several years ago, really out of a request that we heard from many clients. Well, when I was talking to our clients as well as other organizations, we heard over and over again this idea that we just don’t know how to overcome all of these barriers to engagement, or we would hear things like we just don’t know what’s going to work, or nobody knows how to get people to take action with their benefits. And the reality is we do know what works, and it is a formula that you can follow. It’s not an easy formula to follow, it takes resources and a lot of time and effort to follow it, but we know what works, and that’s really what drove us to create this framework.

And so we’re going to talk through the foundational elements of having a strategy, brand, and single place to go, most often a website that’s outside of your firewall. We’ll talk through taking a marketing approach which includes feedback, simplifying information, communicating year round through multiple channels, doing targeted messaging and then really thinking about that employee or member experience. And then finally we’ll talk about resources, so what does your budget look like and how do you work with all the partners? And this framework, we’ve taken dozens and dozens and dozens of organizations through this, and it will show you where you are or are not following the best practices, and then with your team you can decide, okay, well, what are the areas to prioritize that are going to make the biggest impact? So it’ll be fun to go through these.

And we did get a question in, whether or not we’ll share the presentation, absolutely we’ll share the presentation. We have so much information available about these 10 keys, all of them are detailed on our website, we have this beautiful printed book if you want a copy of it, I’d be happy to send you one in paper, but tons of materials that support this conversation. So let’s dig in. We’ll start to go through the worksheet and talk these through one by one.

So the first key is having a strategy. And we believe that there is no point in communicating unless you know why you’re doing that, unless you know what you’re trying to accomplish, and that really is what a strategy is all about. So, your communication strategy outlines why you’re communicating, how you will do it, who you’re talking to, what they care about. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated or take you months and months to produce. So the first question and the first key is about having a strategy, so the question is, and we’ll bring up a poll so that you can answer this, do you have a documented benefits communication strategy with clear success measures? Yes you do, and it’s a key part of our success. Yes, but it could use some work. Or no, not yet, we don’t yet have a strategy. Let’s see how you guys answer these.

Megan: All right, let’s close the poll. And it looks like 43% of people have a strategy but it could use some more work, and 43% don’t have one yet, and just 13% of people do and it’s a key part of your success. So, when thinking about strategy, what does it entail? First you really want to outline your goals and objectives, what are you trying to accomplish? What are you trying to accomplish for your organization or your business? What behaviors do you want to change? What outcomes are you trying to change and so forth? And then the audiences, who are you trying to reach? The behaviors you’re trying to influence and the actions that will drive those behaviors, followed by how you will measure outcomes, and then revisit this on an annual basis or even more frequently if that makes sense to see what’s working and what’s not working.

Jen: Yeah, and for those of you who don’t have a strategy yet, that’s your to-do after this. Start with that, and we have a ton of resources on our website for how you can do that and create one that’s really simple, but just indicating what do you want people to do, and then how are you going to push them to do that, that is going to help you really prioritize and focus your efforts this year in big ways.

Megan: Yeah, and this exercise that you’re going through now can be that first piece of your strategy and trying to figure out the different levers you have to use and you’ll see how this all comes together as we move through this presentation.

Jen: Yep. So, the second key is brand, and when we talk about brand, it’s not just the logo or the color scheme, although that is often how we visualize it. It’s really more about what is the relationship you have with your employees or your members, and how do they know that they’re connected to you? So, what you want to do is have a recognizable and consistent look and feel and voice to your communications that are aligned with that overall brand, and Megan talked early on about how trust is such a big factor in getting people to take action, and people trust their employer, so using your brand is a way to reinforce that trust.

So the next question is, do your benefits communications have a recognizable look, feel, and voice, and are they aligned with your organization’s brand? Yes on nearly every piece; sometimes; or no. Let’s see what you guys say. And one person put their address in the Q and A, feel free to do that and we will send you a book. Okay, let’s close the poll.

Megan: All right, it looks like about half of you use your brand and incorporate it into every piece, and the other half sometimes use your brand, which is wonderful. And as Jen mentioned, brand is so much more than your logo and your colors. It is the tone of voice and the way that you are connecting to your broader employee value proposition, and as you can see in this example here from Krispy Kreme, there are lots of fun puns that they’re using about doughnuts and how they’re integrating their business and what people do into the benefits themselves, so get their benefits while they’re hot, or savor those sweet perks. They’re having a lot of fun and being very playful with their brand and so that is an extension of the culture that they’re trying to create as an employer and trying to connect that whole experience together.

Now let’s look at websites. You just got a sneak peek of a website, but we’ll also talk about this in a little bit more depth here.

Jen: Yeah, so a benefits website is generally a one-stop-shop for employees and families to learn about benefits and take action. We find that it’s most effective when that resource is outside of the firewall and without a password so that people can easily access it and they just pull it right up on their mobile device. So, the next question is do you direct employees to a single online resources that is user friendly and easily accessible to everyone and their families? The first answer is yes, and it’s password free and outside of the firewall; yes, but it requires a password or login; or no.

Megan: All right, we’ll give you a moment to answer this question and while we are doing that, I see a question from Suzie…nice to see you, thanks for joining us today. I think the last time I saw you was right before we went into lockdown at a conference. She has asked, "Branding and co-branding, what is your perspective on when companies want to co-brand things company and provider?" Jen, do you have any thoughts about that?

Jen: Yeah, so, there’s no single way to approach this. The best thing is to be intentional about it. So, in general, when you’re talking about a lot of different benefits or the overall benefits approach, you’re going to want that branded just the company, because you’re really talking about what you as an organization are offering. But when you’re really promoting a single program, co-branding totally makes sense at times and can totally work. The best thing is just to be intentional about it, and be consistent, so that it’s not super random. And don’t do a lot of communications that are only branded the vendors, because that deteriorates the value that the employer is providing.

Megan: All right. So here are the results, we have 43% of people have a website that is outside of the firewall and 43%, the same percentage, have a website that is password protected, and then just a few people don’t have a website. So I think it’s wonderful that the majority of people do have a website and I think this number has really increased over the past year because having a digital presence has become so important. It’s also helpful because you can make updates quickly, you can get information to your members or to your participants very quickly, especially when there’s a lot that’s in flux and that’s changing.

And for those of you that are only using a password protected or website that has a login, you just want to think that through because that’s a barrier to engagement in terms of finding your password and all your credentials to log in, is there some information that you can make available and where is the best place to put that so people can find it quickly as needed in terms of overall high level information about their benefits.

Jen: Yeah, there’s a question that came in that says, "How do you secure the microsite from people outside of the company?" And the idea is really that you don’t secure it. You have a good amount of information available without a login and then once people are enticed to take action on those benefits or they see what’s of value, then they can log in and go to the administrator or go to the health plan or go to another vendor and take advantage of those personalized and secure tools.

Here’s an example of one of those sites, this is Intuit’s site. We launched it initially in 2007, and it has been their go to resource since then. We have a different site for every country, different site for different classes of employees, and it’s really the go to resource and people can access it from anywhere, and it’s been a huge, huge resource and help for them during all of the changes in this past year. And we can share tons more of these.

There’s often still some hesitation of putting information out there without it being secured, but once you see how many companies do that and just how predominant that is as a strategy, including for very, very traditional, conservative organizations, usually leadership can get over that concern. And the key is just making it so easy for people to take action because when you go to your mobile phone and you’re like, "I want to do something about one of those benefits that I thought I saw," the minute you hit a login screen and you don’t know what to do with it, you’re going to be like, "Okay, I’m going to just go look at Instagram instead." And that’s the behavior that we want to avoid.

So, removing barriers, making it easy for people to engage, that’s what this piece is all about, and of course having one single place to point people. Because the ecosystem is so complex, and there’s so many different programs and resources that you’re providing.

Megan: Yeah, so we have a question here from Brian about his organization using an external password protected site, or doesn’t have a password, and an internal site... I’m sorry, let me start over. So they have an external and an internal site with more details, so he’s asking how do you direct people to two different places and is there a best practice for this? So, yes, there is a best practice and our advice and recommendation is to be consistent about the first destination. So, with clients of ours that have both a password free and a password protected site, we often point the employees or members to the un-password protected site first, and that’s always the first stop. And so from there they are then catapulted to any of the additional places for additional information.

Some of our clients even have this functionality on the site itself, so there’s some information that they can access free without a password and then if they want to get into more details then they have to enter a login, and so that helps them protect the information that they don’t want to get out there but also makes the majority of information public or at least they can kind of get a sense for some of that high level information that’s important.

So the key here is to be consistent in all of the communications, point them directly to that un-password protected site first as the first stop shop.

Jen: Yep, and we have one more question on the website, "Do we see an increase in employer single sign on for specific benefits? And what are the pros and cons of that?" And I would say definitely if you can do single sign on and help people get to all of the different places they need to go, that’s just removing a barrier to engagement and we do see more and more of that and single sign on is getting more sophisticated all of the time with companies like Okta providing really seamless authentication. So, yes, we see lots of employer single sign on and it’s a good way to go if that’s an option for your organization.

Megan: One other element about having a digital presence that’s really helpful is connecting your benefits experience globally and creating a more comprehensive and consistent experience for all employees across the globe. So you can see here, one of our client sites, Adobe, has a bilingual page for Japanese employees in both English and in Japanese. And so you can see here that it’s creating a more consistent experience across the board and the details that are available and the resources and benefits available in different markets differ, and so that’s one of the reasons why to have different pages for each country or for different regions. But it can create that overall, consistent experience, as well as emphasize a culture of wellbeing. That’s so top of mind for many of our clients.

And if you’re trying to communicate about wellbeing and prevent burnout and so forth, you want to do so in a manner that reaches everyone, everywhere, even though they’re maybe different resources in local areas available to people.

Okay. As Jen mentioned, we have lots more resources to help you build a strategy, especially if you answered no to the first question about not having a strategy. You can go to and we have a benefits engagement guide, a roadmap for creating your strategy as well as a open enrollment communications campaign debrief worksheet.

And we know open enrollment may feel like it was a long time ago, if it happened in the fall or even the summer of last year, but you can take this and refresh yourself in terms of what worked and what didn’t work last year, and use that to set the stage for your open enrollment this year in terms of do you want to continue doing a virtual benefits fair if you’ve pivoted last year to do something like that or to have a digital employee meeting for example. So you want to look at any of the data that you have showing how receptive people were to different channels that you may have tried for the first time and see if you want to continue that going forward.

So, the next key, or series of keys, is around marketing and really taking a marketing approach to helping people understand and interact with your benefits. So the first part of this section is feedback and I’ll hand it over to Jen to read the question.

Jen: Yeah, feedback is something we’ve been talking about a lot, especially when there’s so much change. We need ways to collect and use employee feedback, and that is so key to taking a marketing approach. So this question is simply, do you collect, use, and respond to employee feedback? Frequently, sometimes, or no? So let’s get that out, a moment for you to answer, and we’ll look at that.

We’ve been talking a lot about the big shifts in people’s expectations overall because of all of the events of the last year, and feedback is also one of the big themes there that we’ve been talking about. We’re seeing organizations put in so many more feedback channels than they have had historically to be able to keep up with all that’s going on in their organizations. So, let’s close this poll and take a look at it.

Megan: Okay, so it looks like about half of people sometimes use feedback and then 27%, almost 30% of people don’t use feedback, and about 20% of people do, so it’s kind of a mixed bag but most of the people sometimes use feedback. As Jen mentioned, this doesn’t have to be an onerous or complex way to get information from people. You can do quick poll surveys or you can use online focus groups, which you can get really valuable information about how your employees are thinking and feeling right now in terms of things that they need or gaps in their understanding, so you can understand what’s being used and what’s not being used, what they don’t know is available.

And that can really drive your communications agenda for the rest of the year in terms of helping them understand what you do have that maybe they don’t understand or they’re not using correctly. So that is definitely something to think about. You can also do A-B testing which is sending an email with one headline and then sending another email with a different headline but sending them to the same place and seeing what gains the most traction with employees. And you can use any survey that your company or your organization is doing on a regular basis and include something on benefits if it’s part of a larger scale survey which is more traditional than what we see.

So, as I think Jen mentioned earlier, we have been doing virtual focus groups over the last year as we’ve shifted course here, as we all have, through the pandemic. And this is a really fun way to get real-time information from your people and your members. You can host up to 1,000 people in the conversation and they take part in a question and answers online and they can vote on different questions that you post to them and they can validate other participants’ responses and say whether something resonates for them or doesn’t. Everything is anonymous, and it’s powered by AI, so you can analyze and organize information in real-time, which is so crucial in moments like now where there’s so much changing and people really do need to understand all of the various resources that are available to them.

Jen: Yeah, we’ve been doing tons of those online focus groups and the information gleaned is so valuable. The main thing with feedback is don’t be scared to ask. It’s such an important part of really understanding how to make sure things resonate with people, and when you get that feedback, you can help execute on the next few keys, the next one being really prioritizing simplicity. And the key here is that a lot of this stuff that we’re talking about is really complex, so are we putting the energy in to making sure that things are as simple as possible when we’re communicating with employees and family members?

So, this question is simply do you simplify messages, eliminating jargon, so employees and family members can digest information quickly and take action easily? Do you do that frequently, sometimes, or, no, we’re not really making it too simple right now?

Megan: So, as you are thinking about this response, I would just challenge you all to think about simplicity. It’s not just the language and the jargon but it’s the overall experience, how simple is it to find something? Do you have to go to two different places to change your contributions in your retirement plan, and then change your investments in your retirement plan? The more complex that process is, the less likely it is that someone’s actually going to follow through with the intention that they have to make a change.

All right, let’s close that poll. And take a look at the results. All right, it looks like 60% of you frequently simplify messages, so that’s awesome, and 33% of you sometimes, and almost 10% of you never. So, again, think about this and keep in mind that so much of our training and our understanding of benefits kind of seeps through the communications sometimes in terms of being industry professionals and thinking that everyone else has the same level of knowledge and access to information, it’s just simply not the case. Most people don’t understand finances, they’re not CIOs, they’re not health managers, and so you really need to think about that and making sure you’re scrubbing the content to make it as simple as possible so it really resonates with your people.

Jen: Keeping it simple also connects to taking a multi-channel, year-round approach. And when we work with organizations, this is the biggest change we see. If you can truly switch from communicating a couple of times a year, or even a few times a year, to frequently about your benefit programs, that’s where you’re going to really be able to drive engagement. And so having that multi-channel, year-round approach can make such an impact. And it’s so much about really simplifying things, because when you’re communicating more frequently in smaller, bite-sized bits of information, you can really help people take action.

So the question here is do you communicate year-round using a mix of channels such as email and print, and your benefits website and intranet, and do you tailor the content to those channels? Yes, and we use several channels; yes, but we only have a couple of channels; or no, we don’t communicate year round.

Megan: Right, we’ll give you a minute to fill this out and think about this. I imagine many of you had to revisit your channels last year in terms of the way that you may have typically reached people. You may have had a lot of employee meetings or onsite benefits fairs that you may have had to change given the restrictions on large gatherings and so forth. So perhaps this will be an interesting one to discuss. So we have the 45% of people only use a couple of channels, and 40% use several channels, and just 20% of people don’t communicate year round.

So that’s great. This is, as Jen said, one of the main ways that you can drive change and ongoing engagement with your benefits, and there’s so many different ways that you can reach people even in today’s world where you may not be onsite still, or the way that you’re onsite is in a limited way with limited staff.

There is digital channels, which became a huge way to reach people last year. The website we’ve talked about, as well as social, videos, webinars and decision support tools, that’s always a great way to help people feel more confident about their decision, decision support tools. They don’t have to be terrible complex, but they can go a long way with making people feel better about their choices. And then unexpected, so whether you’re using ambassadors who help champion change or anything that you can think of, this is the way that you can sometimes catch people’s attention with something unexpected.

In addition to that, you want to think about the cadence and how you’re communicating on an annual basis and what messages you’re sending when and all of the tactics involved with reaching your people at different times, whether it’s different themes that are top of mind for people or changes that they may be experiencing as we progress into summer months. You think about school ending and children needing to go to camp, what resources do you have to support families? All of those are top of mind and you want to be ahead of those decisions that people may be facing so that they realize and recognize and utilize all of the benefits that may be able to support them through these life changes.

Jen: Yep, that’s great. Caroline in the questions has asked actually if we can ask the audience what they’re planning for open enrollment this year, are you going to do any in person meetings or are you going to stick to everything being virtual? If you guys want to put your answers to that in the questions, we’ll keep moving and then we’ll kind of report out on that at the end. We’re seeing a mix, but a lot of companies had tons of success with their virtual events last year and are going to keep that going. So if you have any thoughts on what you’re doing with that, please put it in the comments and we’ll share those in a moment.

Megan: Yeah, I’ll add to that that a couple of our clients who started using virtual benefits fairs last year said that they’ll never go back. They may have an in person session on site at their larger locations, but because it has democratized people’s access to information in the sense that they had multiple offices across the country and some of the smaller offices didn’t feel like they got the same amount of information as the home office, and so because they could do a virtual benefits fair and it didn’t matter where people were located, they had such a huge response to people engaging with the fair so that they’re going to continue with that in the future even if they do have an in person component.

Jen: Lots of people have replied, and it looks like most people are going to be doing virtual events, several doing a mix of virtual and onsite. We’ll tally these up and report back. That’s really helpful.

Great, so the next key is doing targeted communication. And the key here is that we have such a diverse employee population and such a diverse family population that we’re trying to connect to, that when we always talk in broad messages, it’s harder to get people to really connect with what’s meaningful for them. So the question here is do you target information by life stage, by mindset, by demographics, or benefits usage, so that employees are confident in their choices and it’s easier for them to take action? So, the question really is do you target information frequently, sometimes, or no, we don’t provide targeted information?

Megan: And while panelists are answering this question, we have another question that came in. Jen, I’m going to have you think about this as I read it. "I was wondering what your thoughts are about personal social media and cellphone accounts to communicate to employees and to open up the multichannel communications. How is that resonating with employers?"

Jen: Yeah, so, we have several clients who have a social media presence for their employees. Often it’s connected to recruiting and really helping share the culture and the values of the organization externally, and we do use those social channels in some ways to promote benefits and make it a more frequent conversation. We do see lots of organizations using text messaging too, sometimes to people’s personal accounts, so I don’t think that there’s any reason not to explore those channels and certainly one of the benefits of having a website that’s outside of the firewall is that anyone can pull it up on their phone at any time with no issue, and that’s part of what makes it really an easy channel for people to access.

Megan: You can also have people opt in, so you don’t have to automatically default to trying to use social with everyone, but ask people to opt in if they want to hear from you more frequently. I know some of our clients do that, and they have some vendors who have social media accounts and the vendors, the employees, opt in to those vendor channels and they get more information if they’re especially interested in a certain topic, so that usually works pretty well.

So it looks like 50% of people target information, and 43% don’t. So this is an opportunity for those that aren’t targeting information to think about this, the most basic way you can do this is to target by location, especially right now if you have some people onsite and others that are still working from home or different groups of employees that have different needs that you may want to get them more specific information about their state or their location or things that they’re experiencing if you’re returning to the work site at any time soon to make sure that they have relevant information that matters to them and their current experience.

Jen: Yeah, I would add on to the targeted topic, you don’t always have to do this in really sophisticated ways with the data. Sometimes we think the only way that I can send a targeted message, say, to employees who have small children is if I somehow slice and dice the data and pull a perfect list together of who has small children. Well, there are ways to build your content, to structure a website for example, and provide all of the content that’s relevant for people that have small children so people can kind of choose their own adventure in that way.

And then what we have seen a lot of this last year is the employee resource groups or the chat rooms or the Slack channels and so forth that get really focused. One of our clients has an internal chat channel for folks that have kids that are under five, and then I think five to 10 and 10 to 15, they have a bunch of different segments so that people can really share specific information about what they’re going through and what’s working for them with having their kids at home and so forth. And that can be a way to target information, because then if you have a place where all of your folks that have young children are congregating, you can then send them the information that’s just about how the benefits support them in that moment. So think about that with targeting too, it doesn’t always have to be a complicated setup to make it work.

Okay. The last part of taking a marketing approach is really to think about the employee experience, and this is something that is getting a ton of attention right now and employee experience has almost become a buzzword, but the way we think about it is really do you look at how things across the organization connect together and are you thinking about your programs in a holistic way so that it’s easier for people to make the right decisions, and it’s easier for them to see how things are connected together? So, the question here is do you look at the employee experience holistically, and design programs and communications to make the right decisions easier? Frequently, sometimes, or no.

Megan: A really important part of the employee experience that we’re seeing more attention paid to is both employee onboarding and off boarding, and I think partly because of the pandemic and how that shifted things and people are paying more attention to onboarding people virtually is how much attention does benefits get during that onboarding and on the off boarding in terms of how you’re driving behaviors in terms of COBRA or staying invested in an employer sponsored retirement plan and so forth?

Okay, let’s look at the results here. So, it looks like 63% think about this, sometimes think about the employee experience holistically and design programs to make decisions easier, and on both ends, frequently or no, it’s 20%. So, again, it’s kind of a bell-shaped curve here, that the majority of people are sometimes thinking about this, and we have a case study here now that we’ll walk you through in terms of how one of our clients is thinking about the overall benefits and how to really meet people where they are and take a needs based approach to engaging people with their benefits.

So, Lenovo here is a client of ours, and we started working with them in 2017 and one of our first campaigns was to highlight underutilized benefits. So there’s so much attention based on the health plans and the retirement plans that people sometimes don’t always know the full extent of everything else that’s available, so they have a very visually engaging brand and they have a motto in their organization that different is better. So they try to infuse that approach, and that’s how their brand is coming through. It’s not just using simple language and flashy graphics and so forth, but it’s really showing that they’re presenting their benefits in a different way than perhaps their people have seen before.

One of the ways that they have realized this is through a Life Hacks campaign. They found that there were underutilized benefits or programs that maybe were lesser known, and they wanted to connect those programs to people’s everyday needs, so they created these hacks which showed common challenges or obstacles that people face and when you clicked on any one of the hacks or the problems, it showed a solution that their benefits could help them with. So one example would be if someone hadn’t yet prepared a will, on the backside of the card here, you would be connected to free estate planning consultation as well as reminding people to select beneficiaries in their retirement plan.

And there were all different types of hacks on all of the different facets of well-being. And these were so popular with employees that we actually created a second campaign called Even More Life Hacks, which contained additional life hacks and used additional channels, so there was a postcard that was sent to home to include spouses or partners to really draw attention to all of this great content on their website. So if you’re thinking more about the media you want to use or how to use behavioral science to take your benefit communications to the next level, again, go to and you’ll see all of the resources we’ve created over the years to help our clients and all of you solve these very problems.

Okay, so the final section of our 10 keys is devoted to resources, which contains budget and partners. I will pass it back to Jen to talk about budget.

Jen: Yeah, so we’ll go through these two very quickly and then have a few more minutes at the end for Q and A. So budget is pretty simple, you need money to cover the internal and external resources to support this communications plan and especially to support that change to communicating year round. So the question here is do you have a budget in place for communications? Yes, and it’s enough to ensure we meet our goals; yes, but we need to allocate more; or no, we do not have a budget for communications.

And while you all answer that, I will share that part of what we have been supporting several clients with this past year is really showing how the communications investment is driving the value in the benefits. We’ve created dashboards and different reports that show how the well-being program usage changes with different communication campaigns, and where people are really accessing resources, and it makes it a very tangible way to show that that budget is really doing its job or your communications are doing its job.

Megan: So this one looks like an even split across all of the categories, that some have a budget and it’s enough to meet their goals, some need to allocate more ,and some do not have a budget. So, in thinking about this in terms of how to advocate for a budget in your organization, it’s helpful to emphasize value and not cost and you really want all employees to take full advantage of the benefits. There was one study done in the UK that indicated that if employees don’t know or are not aware that benefits exist, then why even have them? There’s no advantage to having them if people aren’t using them and they don’t know how to use them.

It also helps people be productive, it helps attract and retain talent, keep your star performers, and helps drive the behaviors in the health plan and the retirement plans that you want to see. So, that can go a long way with helping gain momentum in your organization for the resources that you need.

Additionally, there’s transition points in the life cycles of organizations where they may need to reevaluate the amount of money that they’re spending on communications, benefits communications, and that could be at times of growth. Or if you’re experiencing growing pains, you’re seeing that the organization is changing and perhaps there are gaps between who is delivering information or how people are accessing information, and always when there are big changes. So if you’re making big changes to your plan, your retirement plan, your health plan, you want people to be aware of what those changes are, so it’s really helpful to communicate significantly around those points of transition for employees.

Jen: Yeah, and big changes in what’s happening. So we’re seeing a lot of organizations for the first time really think about how many more resources need to go to communications in this moment, because people have such high expectations for how much information they’re receiving from their employer.

Megan: And I think as Jen said earlier, just a small investment can go a long way, so if you think about your communications spend as a percentage of your overall benefits spend, then that might help get leadership or others get more comfortable with making an investment in communications.

Another part of this is partners and who you work with and how you’re getting support to making all of these communications happen. You can work with a specialized agency like ours, you can work with your benefits vendors, freelancers, or other vendors to help make all of this happen. You even have internal resources, internal communications, depending upon your organization and how big it is. So, here is the question, I’ll toss it back to Jen to read for all of you.

Jen: Yeah, so the question here is do you integrate your vendors and your external and internal partners to support communications? Yes, and we do it well; yes, but it needs some work; or no, we’re not really integrating the various partners. And as you all answer that, I will tell you, this is an area we’ve been having a lot of fun with over the last year in trying to keep up with everything that’s been going on, and in a lot of cases, we’ll help host and moderate virtual vendor summits to bring everyone together around a specific goal and say how are we all going to work together to really get this accomplished?

And it’s, one, that’s a lot of fun to get everyone working together, and really, really interesting to me because everyone is putting more energy into how they’re supporting communication and engagement right now.

Megan: Yeah, you can even meet on a monthly basis to talk with your vendor partners. We do this with one of our clients, and it really helps to align all of the messaging throughout the year and all of that stacking of the messaging so that everyone’s on the same theme or you’re reiterating messages that are coming from different places and so all of that effort is aligned. It can go so far with helping to make sure employees are participating in a challenge or understanding all of the mental health resources that are available at a current moment.

So, it looks like the majority of people, over 50%, do integrate their vendors and external partners but it needs some work, and then, again, on the book ends it’s about the same, 20% yes, they do it well, or no, they’re not doing it. So for those of you who aren’t integrating your vendors or external partners, you may want to think about that as a way to drive more synergy in terms of the messaging and capitalizing on all of the great resources that all of your vendors could offer to your people and the best way to get that in a way that does not overwhelm them.

So here, again, we have some additional resources, a compilation of our best reads from our blogs about utilizing vendor partners, as well as a whitepaper on the value of investing in benefits communications. So if you need to make a case for more resources in your organization you may want to check that out.

Jen: Great, okay, well, we are almost to the top of the hour. We’ve gone through all the 10 keys, if you’ve filled out and answered the questions along the way, you should have a good sense now of how your current efforts stack up against this and it’s probably no surprise that the A answers were the best, best practices; the Bs were getting closer; and then the C, if you answered a C, you are definitely not alone and that’s probably an area where you could focus some energy to improve your results.

So, take a look at that, at where you landed with those different pieces. As I mentioned at the beginning, we have tons and tons of resources about all the ins and outs of the 10 keys and so forth that we can find on our website and we’re happy to send you the printed book as well. We also are happy to take you through a more detailed, nuanced version of this. When we do the 10 keys with our clients, we actually create a numerical score on a scale of one to 100, and we can be very precise about exactly where you should put your energy to create the best results so we’re happy to talk with you about that as well.

So, let’s see, did we have something else at the end? Yes, we will be sending this presentation and you’ll also have the worksheet as a takeaway.

Megan: There’s a question, Jen, about companies, if they include total rewards on their micro benefits site, or is it just benefits focused?

Jen: That’s a great question. So, we have several clients that have full total rewards on their external sites, and in some cases really the kind of content that touches the full employee value proposition. And then in other cases it’s really just focused on benefits, so you can make a case for both and we’d be happy to show you some examples of both approaches if you want to talk offline.

Megan: I think one final thought I’d like to leave with everyone is that don’t get overwhelmed with where you scored or where you didn’t score in this assessment. It’s just meant to be a way to help focus your energy going forward and all of our clients, this has been an evolutionary process over the years, so they may have to focus on building a foundation, for example getting resources together to create that website. They don’t or aren’t able often to do all of the things that we recommend all at once. So pick and choose what works for you in terms of your organization and what is manageable and doable, and each thing, as you layer and layer on top of one another, will create that overall successful ecosystem over time.

But take it step by step and focus on what’s doable and achievable, and all of those things will go a really long way to helping people make better decisions about their health and their finances.

Jen: Yep, absolutely. And I have one more piece of information to report out. Ashley, our fabulous behind the scenes webinar guru who was doing the polls and so forth, has tallied up the responses on whether people are doing virtual or onsite events or a mix and four folks said virtual only, zero said onsite only, and six said that it would be a mix. So, that’s your official tally on that spur of the moment poll.

So, we are always happy to chat more. Thank you so much for joining us, and please reach out with more questions. Megan and I are always happy to talk one and one, but as she said, I hope that this has been a lot of good information and that you’ll be able to use it to figure out how to prioritize your efforts this year. Thank you so much.

Megan: Thank you.