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pick your person
Bella Giannetti March 7, 2023 3 min read

How to Make It Easy for Employees to Select Their Beneficiaries

Getting employees to make decisions about their benefits is always challenging. This is also true for getting them to select beneficiaries. Because benefits like life insurance, retirement plans, and health savings accounts (HSAs) all require designations but can be managed by different providers, the task may seem overwhelming to employees. Plus, they may not feel a sense of urgency to update their beneficiary designations, easily pushing the task off until later—and never getting around to it.

Just ask the State of Rhode Island’s Office of Employee Benefits. They wanted employees to designate their beneficiaries for five different benefits administered by seven different providers—including their defined benefit, defined contribution, deferred compensation, health savings account, and life insurance programs—but they lacked a central place where employees could easily make these changes.

Understanding the Problem

Since there wasn’t a central portal or comprehensive beneficiary election form, the State of Rhode Island’s Office of Employee Benefits knew that getting employees to take action could be difficult. Asking them to update or confirm their beneficiary information required them to set aside time to contact each plan administrator individually to, first, understand the process and, second, to update or confirm their beneficiaries. Plus, many employees didn’t understand what a beneficiary was, why it was so important, what their options were, and so on.

Finding the Right Solution

The State of Rhode Island sought to simplify the entire process. We helped them consolidate all the information about designating a beneficiary for each program and made it accessible to employees in one location on the State of Rhode Island’s employee benefits website. There were no barriers to access this information, so employees wouldn’t be discouraged by a firewall and login credentials. Then, we helped the State of Rhode Island develop specific step-by-step instructions, by provider, outlining how employees could make changes.

To bring attention to this new information and elicit responses from employees, the State of Rhode Island sought to promote their updated website and streamlined processes. We collaborated on a campaign that would bring more awareness to the importance of naming a beneficiary. The goal was to help make an administrative process feel less technical and intimidating and more personal, enticing people to take action. To achieve this, we helped them develop a fun and light slogan that felt relatable and meaningful. The result was the Pick Your Person campaign with the tagline “The choice is yours. The benefits are theirs.”

With a decision as personal as naming a beneficiary, the State’s team embraced a human-centered design approach. The images were warm and emotive to help people understand the significance of taking the time to designate their beneficiaries. To avoid alienating the participants, the people featured in the photos were intentionally out of focus but proudly displaying an in-focus snapshot of the important person, or people, they had selected.

Pick Your Person

The Pick Your Person campaign ran from August 2021 to the end of that year. To ensure that we reached the State’s diverse workforce, as well as their dependents, we used a multimedia approach that included:

  • New webpage dedicated to naming a beneficiary with step-by-step instructions for each benefits program
  • Brief video focused on the importance of designating a beneficiary
  • Home mailer
  • FAQ
  • Email blasts
  • Pay stub announcements

Additionally, the campaign was reinforced during the State of Rhode Island’s annual benefits enrollment, and it continues to be promoted on the State’s benefits website.

same postcard from campaign

Pick Your Person campaign mailer

Exceeding Expectations, Making a Difference

Following the campaign, during a separate focus group exercise with more than 200 employees, participants were asked if they had Picked Their Person. More than 80% said that they had! Additionally, the campaign received rave reviews from their employees and from their vendors that administer the programs. One vendor has reported a 25% increase in designated beneficiaries since the launch of the campaign. The State of Rhode Island was also honored for their campaign as a Municipal Marvel by the New England Employee Benefits Council at their 2022 Best Practices Awards Conference.

We were delighted to partner with the State of Rhode Island on this project and hope it will continue to have a positive impact on employees as they make important decisions about their beneficiary designations.

We’re proud to work with organizations that value their people. If you want to learn more, we’d love to talk.


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Bella Giannetti

Bella Giannetti is an Associate who helps create, manage, and deliver targeted, thoughtful employee communications for several large clients.