4 Ways to Improve Communication About Benefits

Originally published
Originally published: 5/1/2010

Update employees frequently and in a variety of ways.

According to the 2009 study Health Care Reform and Enrollment by RTi Market Research, 62 percent of employees plan to pay more attention to benefits enrollment options and choices in 2010 than they did in 2009. Rising costs/the recession, concern about coverage, and healthcare reform are the top reasons driving this increased attention.

However, one of the biggest challenges for employers is finding the time to educate employees about benefits changes or options, according to a recent Aflac study "Why Supplement? 2009," conducted by RTi Market Research. Executed properly, informing employees about benefits options can lead to higher retention of talented technicians, better morale, and a better appreciation of the time and money your company puts into benefits administration. 

Many business owners and HR executives agree that doing a better job of informing employees about benefits can reduce turnover. According to the Aflac study, nearly half (49 percent) of employers strongly agree that their employees need to have a better understanding of their benefits; and 43 percent believe a well-communicated benefits program leads to reduced turnover. This applies to any type of organization, regardless of size or industry. In fact, two out of five employees agree that a well-communicated benefits program would make them less likely to leave their jobs.

Given the many responsibilities of hvacr business owners, who has the time to sit down with every employee to discuss benefits? 

Yet, carving out time to implement these four actions for administering benefits could save you time, money, and headaches later. 

1. Accessibility: Business owners would be surprised to know that most employees aren't even aware of all the benefits available to them, let alone where to find information about them. Begin by informally asking your staff what they think about your current benefits offerings and how they match up with their current and individual needs. With a clearer understanding of that gap, business owners and HR specialists can find ways to make benefits information easier to understand and more accessible, be that through displaying brochures and literature about benefits offerings or through more innovative platforms such as online enrollment systems.

2. Frequent communication: Too often, employers communicate their benefits programs only to their workers once a year, overloading on information during the open-enrollment period. A better approach is to communicate to different segments of your employees throughout the year. This will help to improve the amount of information employees retain and make your enrollment a smoother, easier process. 

3. Resources: Be wary of relying on only one communication vehicle to reach employees. Consider engaging the resources offered by many third-party HR administrators, insurance carriers, agents, and brokers. 

 Employees are often overwhelmed by enrollment materials. Use a variety of communications methods, including printed materials, email, broadcast voice mails, online outlets, and in-person meetings with employees. Allowing employees the opportunity to talk directly with benefits advisers or representatives from insurance carriers can be incredibly effective. Most health insurance agents and brokers prefer to meet in person with employees, and are adept at answering questions and helping employees understand their benefits.

4. Promote prevention: According to the Aflac study, employers cite "taking care of our employees" as the most important objective of its benefits program. Ask your insurance provider to help you determine how benefits are being used by your employees. For example, if you found that less than half your workers are taking advantage of a routine physical benefit, pinpoint this area to aggressively promote wellness and prevention among staff. 

While awareness about healthcare reform and economic factors may have your employees being more vocal about their benefits wants and needs, seize the day to open up the lines of communication. Better communication between you and your employees may lead to increased recognition of the time, money, and effort you are putting into providing benefits and send the message: Employees matter! 

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4 Ways to Improve Communication About Benefits

Update employees frequently and in a variety of ways.