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Admin July 10, 2018 3 min read

Better Benefits Communications Begin With Simple Language

Keeping things simple is about making it easy for people to understand what you’re saying and making it easy for them to take action. It includes going the extra mile to clarify complex topics, which builds confidence and empowers employees to use their benefits. Despite the best of intentions, this is often where HR teams fall short—because when you know a subject backward and forward, it’s easy to forget that other people don’t.

Reviewing your communications for simplicity can mean the difference between merely producing a communication and producing a communication that people actually read, understand, and act on.

That’s why Simplicity is key #5 of our ebook series Unlocking Successful Benefits Communication: A 10-Key Framework Every Organization Needs to Get Results.

How Simplicity Boosted Employee Engagement to 80%

When a high-tech client asked us to create some buzz and excitement around a new suite of perks designed to appeal to employees at all life stages, we took a true marketing approach. We ditched the usual HR and benefits jargon in favor of fresh, punchy language that would resonate with the company’s male-dominated population of engineers and appeal to other employees, too.

Instead of developing one communication to announce all the new benefits, we produced a series of unique—and unexpected—pieces, such as stand-up displays and cafeteria placemats. They reinforced messaging that employees heard in team meetings and saw on the benefits website, posters, emails, and digital displays. The goal was to engage employees in the new benefits and reinforce the employee value proposition. Each campaign communication carried a single message with a clear call to action:

  • $30,000 to pay your student loans. H*ll, yeah!
  • $1,200 for your commute. Seriously? Seriously.
  • We’ve got your back. New identity theft protection.​

The campaign was a hit. Employees described the communication as “fresh” and even “hip”—adjectives not commonly associated with benefits communication. In fact, 80% of our client’s employees actively enrolled during a year of passive enrollment. Keeping it simple captured employees’ attention and inspired them to learn more about their benefits.

Science Tells Us Simple Language Is Better

We apply proven techniques from behavioral economics to our work to drive results for our clients. Here’s the science behind the success of this campaign.

Choice overload tells us that we have trouble making decisions when we’re faced with too many options. When a task feels too big—such as selecting a new medical plan or program to engage with—we often fail to do anything at all. To guard against this, the communications designed for the campaign above each carried only a single message. Employees didn’t have to wade through a lot of information in one sitting. They simply had to evaluate one poster at a time and decide if they cared enough to learn more.

Cognitive fluency measures how easy it is for us to understand something, and it affects our decision-making. If something is hard to understand (the subject itself, the words used to explain it, and even the type font used in a communication all play into this), we often give up because we prefer to think about things that are easy. With this campaign, we chose to use real-life examples of the programs to make it easier for employees to quickly understand what they’d get by using them. (‘$1,200 for your commute' versus 'Commuter Spending Account funds’).

Investigatory reflect explains why anything that is new, different, or stands out captures our attention. Because the campaign was so different from typical open enrollment communication—in format and content—employees took notice.

Learn more about the importance of simplicity and read other case studies like this in our ebook series. Simplicity is part of Book II: Marketing. Ebook I shows you how to build your benefits communication foundation, and you’ll learn how to get the right resources in place in Book: III.

We're proud to work with large employers who recognize the business value of engaging employees in benefits. If you want to learn more, contact us.