6 Tips: Communicating to Employees About Benefits Enrollment

Communicating with employees about benefits enrollment – is often easier said than done. Here are a few tips to bolster your workers' retention of important information:

Be aware of your objective

Whether you're delivering a presentation at a company meeting or drafting an article for your corporate newsletter, it's important to tailor every word so that it promotes your objective. For human resources management eager to improve the workforce's understanding of the benefit enrollment process, all communications should be optimized and targeted toward this explicitly stated goal.

Know your audience

Most of the people who work for a company aren't benefits professionals, so much of the terminology that HR management might use when discussing benefits with staff in their department won't fly when they try to communicate with members of other sections of the firm. Before embarking on educational undertakings, ask the following questions to make sure the advice and information you deliver will reach and be retained by your audience:

• To whom are you speaking? (Workers with little to no understanding of employee benefit management.)

• What does your audience need to know? (The enrollment options available to them and how they can use benefits management software to hone in on the coverage plans that are best for them and fit their personal needs. When does your audience need this information? (In time for OE season.)

• How can you strengthen the delivery of your message? (Offer manager-specific training so that individuals who oversee different departments are able to answer any questions their employees may have.)

Understand which communication channels work best for employees

Even in today's modern world, some enterprises still rely predominantly on face-to-face interactions, either in a one-to-one fashion or the setting of a team meeting. Other companies have moved past this approach for either logistical or preferential reasons, and gravitate to electronic forms of communication.

That being said, don't get too bogged down in limiting your educational efforts to one channel, as a multichannel mix will likely garner the best results in terms of employee retention. Hang some posters around the office, make a post on your firm's intranet, send out a company-wide email and produce paper handouts. Make sure the information is accessible and visible, but don't blanket workers by going overboard.

Customize your message

Workers tend to tune out during the parts of a presentation or document that don't apply to them. If they're in IT, for instance, and a presenter is talking about the sales department, there's really no need for them to pay attention. Of course, zoning out can result in missing important, relevant information delivered later on, which is why company-wide addresses aren't always the best way to go. Don't let a lack of personalization hurt your company's education efforts. If there's information that applies only to some workers, set up separate meetings or draft different versions of written collateral in order to maximize engagement across the workforce.

Keep the lines of communication open

All too often, companies address benefits during open enrollment season and go quiet for the rest of the year. Communicating with workers regularly helps reinforce benefits-related information and is useful for employees who need to change their coverage plans at other times of the year - for instance, those who get married, divorced or have children at any time during the open enrollment off-season.

Regular discussions about benefits also allow firms to keep the workforce aware of changes as they happen.

Request constructive criticism

It's rare that the first version of something is also the last. You only need to look to the tech world to see that. As infrastructures change, existing regulations are tweaked and new ones are added, technological evolution yields the next era of tools and people within the company come up with better ideas to impart important benefits information, HR management needs to be open to revising and even entirely revamping its communication plan. Asking the target audience - employees - what they think of the current strategy is a great way to hone in on weaknesses and capitalize on strengths.