In an unstable market, it is critical for organizations to leverage their resources to ensure that the business remains viable and successful. An often overlooked resource that can increase employee satisfaction and help build a positive brand image in the marketplace is employee benefits. The key to leveraging employee benefits is a well-developed benefits communication strategy.
In their seventh annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends, MetLife found that employees are placing a higher emphasis on their benefits package than in recent years. In fact, “scalp massager benefits percent of surveyed employees consider workplace benefits to be the foundation of their personal safety net.” Yet, IOMA, a provider of business management information and products, states that employers only spend a small fraction of their benefits budget to ensure that “the whys and hows of their [benefit] plan’s design, its unique features, and its benefits to the employee” are communicated to employees. With this in mind, it is vital for organizations to effectively communicate benefits to employees.
Communication is vital to supporting the employer brand-to both internal employees and potential employees. According to Jennifer Benz, founder and chief strategist of Benz Communications, organizations should use the following guidelines to develop a solid benefits communication plan:
oGet employees’ attention: Aggressively market benefits to employees.
oTreat employees like customers: Segment employee populations and develop strategies for reaching employees based on their benefits needs and desires.
oKnow employees’ families: Make benefits information readily available to an employee’s spouse and other family members because they are critical in the decision-making process.
oProvide access: Ensure that employees and their families can easily access the information.
oKeep it whole: Review benefits to make sure that they are aligned with employee needs and the goals of the business.
oIntegrate: Coordinate all benefits communication for consistent messaging, especially when the organization uses multiple vendors for benefits.
oBe consistent: Communicate benefits throughout the year, even during tough times.
oKeep it simple: Make resources easy for employees to read and understand.
oLet employees talk back: Provide an avenue for employees to offer feedback on benefits offerings.
oEnsure it is working: Review the organization’s communication strategy to discern what is working and what is needed to communicate effectively with employees.
One of the key pieces to the benefits communication puzzle is how information is delivered. From online, interactive HRMS systems to town hall meetings (both actual and virtual) with employees, employers that recognize the value of solid benefits communication to the organization are using a variety of tools to keep employees informed. Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites can also be an effective way to communicate with employees, simply because many of them are already using this technology. Information can be posted online on blogs and delivered via RSS feeds, and quick updates and links can be sent via Twitter followers, but companies must be fully aware of the viral and public nature of what they are communicating.