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    5 Steps to an Effective Benefits Communication Program

    Offering your employees competitive health benefits is only half the battle. After you’ve shopped around to find a plan that works for your business, your employees, and your budget, the next obstacle you face is effectively communicating the plan benefits to your employee base. It can be a time-consuming task so we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips and best practices to help you streamline the success of your benefits communication program.

    1. Familiarize yourself with the details of your benefits program

    In order to effectively communicate with those in and around your organization, it’s important that you fully understand the ins and outs of your program. A few ways to help you do this:

    • Create lists or guides for yourself that include key dates, administrative information, and key contacts from your plan.

    • Create a matrix that compares the benefits costs and features for each plan that you offer.

    • When creating your communication plan and documents, think about the different audiences that will receive them such as your employees, your company attorney, your employees’ beneficiaries, etc.

    2. Learn how your employees feel about your benefits program

    It’s important that you understand how your employees feel about the benefits you’re offering them so that you can continue to optimize your program over time. You can find out how your employees feel about your program by conducting surveys, analyzing provider reports, or studying provider and actuarial research. If you’re aware of what your employees like or don’t like about their benefits, you can make an effort to highlight those things in your regular communication. For example, if your plan includes a free annual biometric screening but your employees do not take advantage of it, you can include reminders in your communication program.

    Ultimately, understanding how your employees feel about their benefits will arm you with the information you need to revise your communications to meet realistic goals and expectations, your employees’ needs, your communication plan objectives, and your business’ requirements.

    3. Make sure you understand your communication responsibilities

    Some aspects of your communication program are optional (i.e. the example given above about the biometric screening) while others may be required. Make sure you know the difference, and create your communication plan accordingly. Your communication program should ensure that you keep your employees and their beneficiaries abreast of any changes that could impact their benefits, and explain confusing terms and features of the plans.

    4. Tailor your communication strategy

    Your communication plan should be tailored to your different audiences. You can target segments of employees who would benefit most from specific features of a benefit by sending tailored communications. You can also tailor how you send messages to employees based on your segmentation. For example, if your part-time and full-time employees have access to different coverages, it’s important that they receive the most relevant communication.

    5. Consider the operational requirements for creating and delivering your communication plan

    A very important part of the communication plan is determining who will write, edit, and design your communications, as well as the costs involved in this function. It’s critical that this person or team understands the audience they are writing for and how the communication will impact them. Depending on the type of message, you’ll also want to consider the mode in which you deliver it. If it’s something time sensitive like open enrollment information, email may be the best option, while evergreen information may be better suited on your company intranet.

    If you’re looking for a way to effectively communicate the features of your benefit plan, consider the tips above. Or maybe, you’re in the market for an entirely new health insurance plan that could help you save costs while offering your employees more robust coverage. Click the banner below to learn how you could benefit from an association health plan.

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    Roxanne Leal

    Roxanne Leal is the Director of Wellness for SWBC Employee Benefits Group. She specializes in developing strategic wellness programs based on high-cost claims, survey data, and aggregate reports.

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