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Jennifer Benz May 17, 2016 3 min read

The Top 3 Signs You Should Be Investing in Benefits Communications

We are often asked: “When is the right time to start investing more time, energy, and money in employee benefits communication?”

Typically, we see these three junctures when companies need to re-evaluate their benefits communication—and add more resources to support it.

1. Growth: Get ahead of—or catch up with—an expanding employee population.

Most often, when organizations reach a population of 2,000 to 5,000 employees, they start in earnest to develop a more robust, strategic, and resourced employee communications infrastructure—one that supports all HR and internal communications. As companies mature, their entire communications infrastructures need to evolve and begin to run like well-oiled machines that can support a large organization. This means that companies need to take what were once homegrown solutions, and create a defined infrastructure with the right tools and talent to support internal communications.

Typically, this is also an ideal time to adopt a high-touch approach to benefits communications, and build a branded benefits website to begin educating and engaging employees year-round. By taking a proactive approach to benefits communications during this growth phase, you ensure benefits remain a strong part of the employee value proposition, and pave the way for your team to provide consistent, sustainable communications going forward.

2. Approach: You’ve already outgrown it—and it hurts.

Too often, we see benefits get left behind as an organization’s internal communications evolves without the resources or expertise to handle a robust, year-round benefits communications plan. This gap can leave benefits teams feeling the pain of employees who are confused. If you find that your benefits team is spending a good amount of their time fielding employees’ questions, then it’s time to implement a strategic benefits communications plan.

By incorporating benefits communications into the ecosystem of internal communications, you boost your organization’s employee value proposition. But in order to have an effective and sustainable year-round plan, you have to put more resources into establishing a benefits communications strategy.

To do this, you need to:

  • First, develop a strategy that connects benefits communications with your overall benefits program and business goals.
  • Next, you need to put your benefits information online for your employees—and their families—so they can access it whenever they want to. Create a branded, external facing benefits website outside your firewall to house all your benefits information. This will be your communications vehicle for annual benefits enrollment, as well as your channel for communicating with employees year-round about their health and financial wellness benefits.
  • Finally, identify the resources you’ll need to make all this happen. Few companies can go it alone when it comes to benefits communications, and they don’t have to. In addition to working with outside firms that specialize in communicating employee benefits (like us!), there are countless tools and resources that your internal team can leverage to help you meet your goals. And don’t forget to lean on your vendors. You can often gather communications resources—and budget—from your vendors and brokers, too. 

For more on the three steps to drive clear, cost-saving benefits communications, download our white paper, Creating Results with Benefits Communication

3. Big changes: Don’t wait to communicate significant changes to benefits programs.

When big changes are in the works—for the organization itself or its benefits—it’s important to invest a significant amount of effort and resources on communicating those changes ahead of time. It’s human nature to resist change, so whether you’re adding new benefits, introducing a new wellness strategy, or making changes to existing benefits, effective communications will be key to establishing trust, and driving desired results during times of change.

A great example of this has been the move toward high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and overall health care changes. Significant changes to your benefits plans create a simple and clear business case for short-term and long-term communications. We discuss this in detail in our master class, Building engagement: Making HDHPs and HSAs a success.

Whether it’s growth, change—or both—that’s contributing to the need for more benefits communications, it’s important to remember that communication is the foundation for building trust in organizations. Getting ahead of the need to communicate is an opportunity to positively impact the visibility, comprehension, and utilization of your benefits program, and your organization, overall. 

Looking for a change?

Isn’t it time to think about doing communicating benefits differently? Drop us a line; we’ll be happy to share our recommendations for your organization.

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.