Benefits, HR Basics

4 Simple (and Inexpensive) Ways to Improve Your Benefits Communication

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When it comes to benefits, we know one size doesn’t fit all. But most companies still use that approach for their benefits communication.

While targeting communication for different employees and different scenarios does take a little more effort, it’s in reach for most organizations. Here’s how:

Use multiple communication channels

Diverse employees mean diverse adult learning styles — visual, auditory, kinesthetic, to name a few. Fortunately, you have access to multiple communication channels — print, Internet, video, in person, social media, mobile devices, infographics — that offer a variety of ways to deliver information that reaches all the different ways your employees consume and actually learn. By using the various channels available, you can let individuals self-select the types of information that work best for them.

But be careful not to make assumptions about preferences according to age or life stage. While it used to be true that mostly younger generations were using social media, now you can find people of all ages on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Create profiles

Rather than just creating generic information, use employee profiles to maximize your communication’s effectiveness. This can be as simple as giving employees information and resources organized around “profiles” — career and life stage, needs, etc.

For example, you could create five different personas that all have various career and family circumstances. You could then discuss how each persona uses all the available programs. These someone-like-me personas help people relate and see how to use programs in their own lives. This can be especially effective in websites and is frequently used in wellness and health plan education.

Use enrollment data

You can also target campaigns and messaging based on the rich enrollment data at your fingertips. Your company is sitting on a mountain of data — which plans your employees are enrolled in, what changes they’ve made, what their family status is, etc. By using this info, you can target both print and online communication (when websites have user-specific data), making messages more relevant to each of your employees.

For example, if you’re trying to improve participation in your 401(k) program, someone who hasn’t taken advantage of the employer match can get a different message than someone who hasn’t even enrolled in the plan yet. This type of targeting is very effective in motivating changes and helping people make decisions. Creating several versions of the same postcard may slightly increase costs but can have a dramatic increase in results.

Personalize communications

This is what people typically think of when they hear “targeted communication.” While it’s very effective to truly personalize information, it’s also the most expensive, especially when you think about producing total compensation statements or complex reports. But personalization doesn’t have to break the bank. You can explore making emails more impactful with real data and adding personalized cover letters to print materials.

In this case, as with all targeted communication, a little extra effort goes a long way.

Jennifer Benz is Chief Strategist and Founder of Benz Communications, a San Francisco-based consultancy that focuses on custom, comprehensive benefits and HR communications services. Jen is an active member of the Council for Communication Management, the International Association of Business Communicators, the Northern California Human Resources Association and Women in Consulting. Contact her at jen@benzcommunications.com.