Three Things We Wish Everyone Knew About Benefits Communication

Q4intelligence on December 09, 2010

By guest blogger Jennifer Benz.

Why would a company invest so much in something that is as seemingly dry as benefits communication? It’s highly regulated. Often quite complex. And it’s not typically the first thing most people think of when they want to brand their organization and build employee relationships that stand the test of time. And yet, benefits communication also has the most potential reward of any HR communication. That’s why we at Benz Communications focus our energy on creating the kind of benefits communication employees find irresistible, and our clients love.

Three core principles guide the work we do—and they are the reason why our projects succeed. We keep coming back to these principles on every project, every client conversation, every article. They are the reason we love benefits communication—why making it shine is now our mission. And, following these principles will let you and your employees replace the age-old benefits experience dread with appreciation, a sense of security, and action.

See below and let us know if you agree by posting a comment.

Benefits are about people

In an industry filled with crazy administration requirements, a library of acronyms, and enough government regulation to bore you to tears, it’s easy to forget that benefits are actually about people—your employees and their families.

And, people care about their benefits. You can’t get much more important than health and financial security. This is the stuff that makes sure you live happily ever after, or not. In fact, people care about their benefits now more than ever before.

Companies have such an amazing and powerful role to play in their employees’ lives. When you do great things with your benefits programs, you can do great things for your employees, and they can do great things for themselves and go on to do great things in the world (and for your company). But, you have to keep your communications focused on those people and on what matters to them—not on all those processes.

Effective benefits communication is one of the most powerful ways to brand your organization

When it comes to branding, benefits communication is often overlooked. But it can actually be one of the most powerful ways to brand your organization. Especially when you communicate to families, too. How much would it mean to your organization if not just your employees were engaged and loyal, but their families loved your organization as well?

Libby Sartain (HR superstar, formerly of Southwest and Yahoo!) makes a brilliant point about this on the Brand for Talent blog. When describing one of her first projects at Southwest, communicating a new flexible benefits plans, she writes “We quickly realized this could be a prime opportunity to deepen the sense of relationship between the business and its people.” She continues, “More than ever before, a company’s benefits program—what it contains and how it’s administered—is your chance to stand apart from the pack.”

It’s also another reason why you must keep communicating with employees, even when you don’t know everything. Employers who go the extra mile now for their employees will have the strongest employer brands later when the economy changes.

You can’t be effective without a strategy, and you can’t have a strategy without measurable goals

You may know the components of an effective benefits communication campaign—a branded website, print materials to drive employees there, in-person meetings and using social media channels. But, what makes them all work is how you put these components together, and how they support your goals. You can’t communicate effectively without a strategy to guide you, and you can’t know you’re successful unless you have measurable goals.

But, when you do have those in place, you can accomplish great things—by helping your employees take the incremental steps that will help them plan better and be healthier and happier. Whether trying to improve preventive care screenings, moving people into Consumer-Driven Health Plans, or changing investing behaviors, knowing where you’re headed will ensure you get there. And there is no better way to make your benefit programs—and your employer brand—more effective than by helping your employees to do the tangible things that make their lives better.

This is how we think of benefits communication and what we believe makes benefits communication a success—valuable for your organization, your employees and your families.

 

Photo by Sebastien Wiertz.

Jen BenzJennifer Benz is founder and chief strategist at Benz Communications, a boutique consulting firm that focuses on benefits and strategic HR communication. She has been on the leading edge of employee benefits communication for the last 10 years—starting with early adopter consumer-driven health plan implementations and now with innovative wellness and social media strategies. Her work has been recognized by Business Insurance, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the Profit Sharing Council of America and others.

Connect with her on Twitter, @jenbenz, or on LinkedIn.

Topics: Team Development