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September 13, 2012

Talking Benefits: Part 2 of 2

Filed under: General HR Buzz1:15 pm

Last week we took a look at some of the trends in employee benefits from SHRM’s 2012 Employee Benefits Surveys.  This week, I’ve taken a look at what employers are doing with employee benefits communications and surveys.  Here’s a summary of some of the trends and ideas:

  •  Have a strategy for communication that begins with the end in mind.  What behaviors do you want and how do you create a message to elicit these behaviors?  How do you ensure your message gets to the whole family and decision makers in particular?
  • Understand how employees prefer receiving information about their benefits.  Is there a preferred type of communication?  Does this preferred method vary by employee group?  For example, don’t forget to take into account generational differences.  Do younger employees prefer a different method than older employers? Remember the different learning styles too:  visual, auditory and kinesthetic/tactile and try to ensure a variety of communication methods; face-to-face, printed, online, webinars, podcasts, etc.
  • Provide employees enough time to decide on their benefits elections.  UNUM found in a recent study that allowing employees at least three weeks to review benefits options was ideal.  This timeframe gave employees the advantage of discussing options with other family members, attending informational meetings as needed, and doing additional research.
  • 4 simple things employees say they want.   According to Joann Swenson, a health engagement practice leader at Aon Hewitt, employees want the following:
  • Make sure the process easy to do.
  • Help in moving in the right direction.
  • Make the programs meaningful so they feel supported while trying to improve health.
  • Make the message personal so they know how to get the best value.
  • Conduct an employee benefits needs survey to understand what employees want.   Are employees satisfied with the benefits they currently have in place?  What other benefits would they like to see?  Make sure you include demographic identifies such as age, gender, location, and position, so you can understand what’s important to different groups of employees.  Conduct the survey at the beginning of the plan year, but after employees have had an opportunity to use their benefits, especially if some of them are new.  Share results with employees.

How do you communicate with your employees about benefits?  What are you doing in your organization to ensure employees are making good benefits decisions?  Do you conduct an employee benefits needs survey?  Let us know what you’ve learned over the years . . .

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