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Summer 2017: Effective Benefits Communication is a Year-Round Event Part II

Employees have a lot to gain from benefits education at any time of the year. If you read our last article and are ready to reach out to employees with benefits communications year-round, let’s continue where we left off. If you didn’t read it yet, we can wait while you catch up.

Effective Benefits Communication is a Year-Round Event

OK, now that we're on the same page, let's continue. Once you've identified the communication vehicles that work best for your employees, it's time to identify everything you want to tell them.

So much information, where to begin?

A content calendar describing when to release information will help keep topics organized and flowing. Populate the calendar with subjects that would benefit employees the most year-round.

For example, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) give employees the opportunity to contribute on a pre-tax basis to help pay for current medical expenses, long-term care and medical expenses during retirement. Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) are employer-funded accounts that reimburse employees for medical plan deductible expenses. Both HSAs and HRAs can be coupled with a high-deductible medical plan that, at first glance, could chase off employees. With more education, employees may realize they can increase their cost savings if they switched to one of these plans.  Plus, for those already enrolled, more communications on how they work can help with reimbursements or planning for future expenses.

Any time is a good time to talk to employees about Flexible Spending Account (FSA) elections. Whether it’s explaining to an employee who is not contributing how they can save, or enlightening employees who are already saving on how to further maximize their cost savings, constant reminders are helpful. FSA education can help employees make thoughtful decisions on future purchases and assist them in making the best choices on their contribution amount at annual enrollment time.

Wellness plans are intended to help keep employees healthier and reduce the cost of healthcare, while possibly reducing sick time and improving work performance. It’s a win-win for the employee and the employer when there is participation. These year-round programs work best if they are always on the employees’ radar. Plans can include health screenings, health assessments, fitness centers, access to health coaches and incentives for participation. In addition, for an extra wellness communications boost, work in how to take advantage of free preventive health services available through the medical plans, nutrition coverage and reimbursement to gym memberships. 

Another good timeless topic is beneficiary update reminders. Employees may have overlooked making a beneficiary revision for a life insurance or savings plan after a life change. Or, they may not have elected a beneficiary for a new plan they recently enrolled in.

401(k) plans are especially ideal for year-round communications. Sometimes, these plans allow unlimited or quarterly changes for contribution amounts, investment allocation and reinvestment of balances. Setting retirement savings goals and choosing a savings strategy to meet those goals is something every employee should be managing, so they get the most out of their savings plan.  

Hit them several ways, several days

As you plan your calendar, put similar topics in different media. For example, supplement an online newsletter article with a mailing to the home, or follow a lunch and learn with an email with similar messaging. Continue layering communications and building education to employees on all aspects of their benefits.

Then, as annual enrollment approaches, employees are ready to focus on the benefit changes they need to know for the next plan year, rounding out an effective year of communication.

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