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Spring 2017: Effective Benefits Communication is a Year-Round Event

Every year, the benefits annual enrollment season rolls around, filled with information on plan changes and new benefits—important information that has to get to every employee. So, during this busy communication time, it’s also the best time to remind employees how their plans work and how to maximize each plan’s benefits. Right?

Wrong.

Annual enrollment is usually the busiest time of year for benefit communications, and it’s a good time to remind employees of how their plans work, but it’s not the best time. The best time to convey detailed information is throughout the year, not during a season when employees are given a wealth of information required to make annual elections.

Why hold back the rest of the year? Take everything that employees need to know about their benefits, and smooth it out over 12 months with a good, effective communications plan that consistently educates. And, when annual enrollment comes along, you can focus on what’s changing and what’s new, leaving most of the mechanics of the plans to the other 10 months of the year. Increase the chances that employees actually pay enough attention at annual enrollment to make educated decisions, instead of just continuing their current plan without any thought.

Multimedia campaign enforces message

To get started on a year-round campaign, first think about how you currently communicate with employees. Are you reaching everyone with those tactics? Can you expand to include email, an online newsletter, home-mailings, and information meetings, like lunch and learns? Give some thought on what media will allow the same reach to employees in multiple ways. And, be aware, once you increase communications, questions may also increase. Benefits can be a private matter for many, so the best way to handle an influx of questions is to set up a place where employees can submit questions. An email address, or a physical box for employees without computer access during the work day is ideal. Ensure that there is a reliable resource in place to answer questions on a timely basis so that employees continue to use this resource.

Now that you have your communication vehicles identified, you can begin to list the best topics to keep employees thinking about their benefits.

Stay tuned for our next issue with tips on how to list and organize useful subjects that will most benefit employees.

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