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Jennifer Benz May 25, 2016 4 min read

3 Ways Every Employee Benefits Provider Should Support Employee Communications

Engagement. It is what every employer wants, and what every benefits product needs to be able to deliver. If you’re a benefits provider, employee engagement with your product or service is the key to your success—and future sales.

Investing in smart and strategic communications to drive employee engagement can help differentiate providers and create richer customer relationships.

Three secrets of successful employee benefits providers

There’s an exponential payoff for the time and effort you invest in developing a communications engagement strategy for your clients’ employees. Increased employee engagement helps your customers be successful and enhances your value proposition as an employee benefits provider. These are the three ways every benefits provider should support their customers with employee communications:

1. Create and test a strong employee value proposition.

You know why employers want to buy your product, but can you tell employees why they should care? Your employee value proposition will set you apart from all the other products and services competing for employees’ scarce attention. It’s the promise you make to employees to deliver something of value to them as an individual—and it’s what keeps them coming back.

While that may seem obvious, many providers intermingle their employer and employee value propositions, resulting in product promotions that make sense only to benefits pros.

Take time to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and validate your messaging through focus groups or user testing. In addition to the big picture value, be sure to include baseline information that communicates how your product works and how to use it. Making your value—and how to access it—clear to employees is key. 

How it comes to life: We did this for DoubleNet Pay when we helped the company clarify its core mission and create a strategic launch campaign to engage its diverse target populations. The result was a targeted marketing approach that helped multiple stakeholders—employers, brokers, and employees—understand the value of better money management.

2. Provide a simple but robust launch toolkit.

Create a thorough and effective process to launch your product within diverse employee populations and take the burden of communication off your clients. They’re stretched thin and need turnkey solutions that cover every touchpoint in their communication environment.

Arming employers with a well-defined employee engagement strategy will help them position the program and communicate its value to employees. Develop a suite of customizable templates, such as blog articles, infographics, postcards, emails, presentations with speaker’s notes, FAQs, enrollment guide content, tip sheets, and talking points. For maximum impact, target your materials to engage your key audience or audiences—the employees who will most benefit from your produce or service. Messages should focus on how your product can help them solve a real-life problem, and be clear about what action you want them to take.

How it comes to life: A robust launch communications toolkit is just one of the pieces we created for UMB when it asked us to create the most expansive HSA toolkit available. The toolkit features detailed advice and ready-to-use templates to help employers make the shift to consumer-driven plans. It has helped UMB grow its brand, and that work has expanded every year. Just recently, we participated in a UMB webinar about how these solutions helped its client, Garmin, boost enrollment in its HDHP by 31%, and increase the number of employees contributing to its HSA to almost 60%. Plus, more than one-third of Garmin’s associates say they’re now committed to making positive financial changes.

3. Support year-round education.

Bombarding employees with benefits information once a year during open enrollment will not create ongoing engagement. To drive employees to adopt a new product or service, you need to communicate your message much more frequently. You will still want to make a big splash with your launch, but it’s also critical to reach employees when they are making the daily decisions that impact their health and financial security.

This is a key way to endear yourself to your customers, too, who struggle to keep up with year-round education. According to our 2014 Inside Benefits Communication Survey, 75% of employers said their top benefits challenge was getting employees and families engaged year-round. Yet, the majority of employers (64%) admitted they communicate with workers about benefits only once a year at annual enrollment. Providers who support year-round education will help their product be more successful and solve a big business challenge for their clients.

This is precisely why Accolade asked for our support recently in creating a new campaign for its service. Accolade is an on-demand healthcare concierge that is saving its customers, employers and health plans, 10% off their annual healthcare costs. To increase engagement, we created a general awareness campaign that targeted employees at three different life stages with messaging specifically for them. We designed multiple channels for its rollout (website landing pages, emails, post cards, and workplace digital displays). Program engagement will strengthen Accolade’s overall value proposition, and ultimately could be leveraged as a sales tool.

Next steps:

Ongoing investments in communication create strong customer relationships and strong employee engagement. Not sure where you need to start? Please contact us to set up a time to talk.

Jennifer Benz

Jennifer Benz, SVP Communications Leader, has been on the leading edge of employee benefits for more than 20 years and is an influential voice in the employee benefits industry.