Effectively Communicating Employee Benefits Plans

As open enrollment approaches, employers and HR departments need to be thinking about the most effective ways to communicate with their employees about the benefits package. This is especially true if your company is functioning with newly remote employees. Benefits are expensive. And ensuring your employees know what they have and how to use them is a critical part of ensuring a positive ROI on your benefits package.

Here are several things to keep in mind as you work out your communication strategy.

Pick your purpose

Defining a messaging plan around your benefits package should be a critical part of your benefits strategy. For messaging to be successful, you need to define a clear purpose behind the communication.

  • Are you implementing new benefits designed for remote employees?
  • Are you attempting to increase engagement with your benefits?
  • Are you trying to educate employees about what’s available to them?
  • Are you trying to educate employees about how to use their benefits?

An easy way to lose your audience and miss the mark on your message is to get your goals jumbled. To create clear, easily consumable information around your benefits, identify a goal for each piece of content you create, and stick to it. Ask yourself if everything in that piece of content aligns with the goal, removing everything that doesn’t.

This leads us to the next piece of the puzzle: what content, and where?

Pick your platforms

Depending on your provider, the demographics of your employees, and the benefits themselves, you may want to use a variety of ways to communicate your benefits package. Whether you’re using a website, a string of emails, in-person/video meetings, or shared documents, there are several things to keep in mind.

  1. For the sake of ease and efficiency, have a place where employees can access all the documents they may need to learn about and use their benefits.
    1. If you’re sending documents through the mail or over email, make sure you also store them somewhere they can access later. Use DropBox, Google Drive, or any file sharing platform to keep all documents in one place.
    2. If you’re using a website or page on your website for employee benefits, create a clearly marked and easily accessible place for employees to find any documents they might need. Keep this accessible year-round.
  2. Consider the different demographics within your team and develop a communication strategy that meets their differing needs. Older employees may find in-person or video training sessions useful when learning to use their benefits platform. Younger generations who may be new to having their own benefits plan may need extra help understanding their benefits as well.

Keep it going

One of the most effective ways to increase ROI on your benefits plan is to create a year-round benefits communication strategy. Keep it top-of-mind for your employees by regularly checking in with them.

  • Consider adding it to your company-wide newsletters
  • Hold quarterly training sessions or meetings to help your employees use and understand their benefits
  • Survey your employees and keep close tabs on how they feel about their benefits plan, including:
    • How easy it is to use
    • How relevant the benefits are to their needs
    • How often they use their benefits
    • How satisfied they are with their plan and what they would like to see changed

Effectively communicating employee benefits plan takes time and effort. Be ready to hear and act on the feedback you receive. Pay careful attention to who uses their benefits and who doesn’t. If you’re serious about creating a benefits plan that works for your business and your employees, then take the time to work out your communication strategy. It’ll pay off for you and them.

 

Photo by antstang

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Employee Benefits: Planning Ahead

In the past year, employers have had to make significant adjustments to their benefits packages to cope with the pandemic. Most significantly, employers with less than 500 employees have had to adopt new paid leave policies to help employees combat COVID-19 and new childcare demands, with 44% planning on expanding their paid leave benefits in 2021.

But that isn’t the only thing that’s changed. As employers look ahead to upcoming open enrollment and prepare for the year ahead, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Virtual enrollment

Since in-person meetings are sharply declining for safety concerns, employers are shifting the yearly in-person meeting with their broker to virtual walk-throughs over the phone, or doing it themselves online. But it’s more important than ever that employers get the most help they can when it comes to their employee benefits plans.

The changing needs of the workforce, the blowback from delayed elective surgeries, and new regulations mean there’ a lot employers have to navigate if they want to see solid ROI on their benefits packages.

To best prepare your business for the upcoming virtual enrollment period, start by checking off this list:

  • Do some preliminary research and see what’s out there. Get a feel for what other employers of a similar size and industry are doing.
  • Ask your employees what they need the most. Create a tiered list of benefits they express a need for, and benefits they would appreciate, but don’t require.
  • Create a detailed list of questions.
  • Call your broker with your questions and the information you gathered and walk through what’s available to you, making sure to take note of everything.

Research preparation will help you cover all the bases and avoid any gaps or lost opportunities. Make sure you give yourself enough time to do sufficient research and get answers to your questions.

2. Shifting the basics

As you plan for the year to come, take stock of all the changes your organization has gone through in the last months. Have you gone partially or fully remote? Are you considering offering remote positions at your company moving forward? Do you have young parents on your team who are juggling new childcare challenges?

Your benefits strategy may very likely need to be updated to meet the challenges relevant to your employees today. To attract, retain, and engage talent, it’s essential you understand their needs and offer resources for them to maintain a healthy life, both physically and mentally.

And that looks different for remote employees, parents with children at home, and employees suffering from increased strain on their mental health due to the isolation and anxiety caused by the pandemic. The basics of employee benefit packages need to shift around these new and different challenges to adjust appropriately.

3. Benefits communication

With the vast majority of organizations still working remote and expecting to continue doing so into the year to come, employers must create a solid virtual communication strategy around their employee benefits.

Depending on the technical skill level and abilities of your employees, you may want to offer varying types of education and support around how to use their benefits. Especially with heightened awareness around healthcare, employees may be more anxious to learn everything they can about their benefits to help ease some of their anxiety.

4. Planning for changing costs

With so much up in the air, leaders in healthcare are warning that cost projections for next year are cloudy at best. Increased demand for mental health services, the blowback from delayed elective surgeries, and potential vaccine costs are making it difficult for employers to prepare financially for the unknowns. To help with this, talk with your employees about what services they expect to need. Work with your broker to define a strategy that works best for your business.

Stay tuned

As circumstances change, be sure to keep a finger on the pulse of the insurance industry. Keep tabs on how your employees are feeling and what their concerns are moving forward. Although this can feel overwhelming, remember that there are many resources available to you to help guide you through the confusion and change.

Work closely with your broker and expect them to provide you with objective, informative information. Your broker should be your right-hand man during the next few months, and if they aren’t preparing you with strategies, education, and support, you may need to look elsewhere. As you move through the upcoming six months, stay informed, in touch, and open to new solutions and ideas, and you will come out the other side successfully.

 

Photo by mizar_21984

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Employers, It’s Time to Talk About Telehealth

It’s been a hard year. For businesses, families, individuals, the economy, Australia—basically everyone but our pets. The strain on our collective psyche has worried healthcare professionals who are struggling to adapt to increased demand while trying to deal with disrupted delivery of their services caused by the pandemic.

In late July, the Center for Disease Control released a report that showed 40% of adults reporting they were struggling with increased mental health difficulties and substance abuse coping due to the pandemic.

The world of healthcare has seen a massive shift towards virtual healthcare or telehealth services in recent months. A study from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine found that NYU Langone Health experienced a 683% increase in urgent virtual care visits and a staggering 4,345% increase in non-urgent virtual doctor visits.

What does this mean for employers?

While employers have slowly been integrating teleservices into their benefits packages for some time, they may not have seen much enthusiasm towards the services until now. And that increase isn’t expected to go away. It’s projected that the telehealth industry will see a compound annual growth rate of nearly 40% over the next five years.

So, what exactly does that mean for employers? That it’s well past time to ensure they are offering telehealth services to their employees, not just as a quick fix, but as a long-term solution. Because of the pandemic, most providers have successfully made the switch to offering virtual care, allowing those already with insurance to stick to what’s available to them.

But that may not be enough. Employers must make telehealth services available to their employees—not just in the form of physical wellness, but behavioral and mental health.

As the effects of the pandemic continue to wear on individuals and families, it will be increasingly less likely that organizations will avoid seeing these effects in their employees. They must take steps now to help prevent further harmful effects from manifesting in their employees by creating systems that can successfully address these issues as they arise.

Where to go, and who to ask

There’s a lot of information about different services and how they’ve made a difference for employers. To get a handle on all of it, take these steps:

  • First, do your research. Ask your broker about telehealth services you can provide and read up on them.
  • Survey your employees. Find out what they want and need.
  • Create an implementation plan. Educate your employees, not just once, or in one way. Some of your employees may not be as comfortable adapting to new technology as others, so make sure you provide ample training and assistance to use it successfully.

Going forward

Like any new system, benefit, or practice you introduce to your employees, it’s critical you don’t just set it up and forget about it. Monitor the program closely and follow up with your employees to find out what’s working and what isn’t. Identify areas that can be improved and locate issues to address.

Now is not the time to be haphazard about your process. While the pandemic may make telehealth services easier to implement in some ways, remember that it is an attempt to address a critical issue that can quite literally mean life or death depending on its success or failure.

In the end, the best thing that employers, leaders, organizers, and advocates can do is work together to provide the best quality care to the largest number of people. Make sure you’re doing your part to support your employees and set them (and your business) up for success.

 

Photo by agenturfotografin

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Hiring Managers, It’s Time to Adapt!

Among all the aspects of day-to-day operations that have changed this year, very little in the business organization has been left untouched. As the future begins to settle into a clearer picture, HR departments are doing what they can to adjust their practices to meet the new needs of the day. Among the methods needing evaluation and improvement, hiring is going to be high on the list.

Here are three areas that hiring managers should keep in mind as they adjust their systems to the new normal.

The description and the search

With millions of people unemployed, organizations are experiencing a larger than normal pool of candidates viewing their job postings. This can be an excellent opportunity for companies to be picky and find the best candidates possible for their roles. However, it can also cause problems.

With so many people out of work, it would be no surprise to find yourself slogging through piles of resumes and running through many interviews with candidates who aren’t good fits. To help avoid attracting people who won’t be a good fit for the role or your culture, you can do a few things.

  • Put the starting salary for the role in the description
    This is a good practice even if you aren’t fighting off hordes of job seekers to find the right candidate. Wage transparency helps job seekers decide for themselves if the role you’re offering would fit their needs. It also says something about your company culture: mainly, that you aren’t secretive, and that you value transparency.
  • Keep up your standards
    Having a larger pool of candidates may make hiring managers feel they have to put less work into the candidate experience. But doing this would be a mistake. Your candidate experience plays directly into your brand image and your reputation. It’s the first interaction new employees have with your company culture. Ensure you’re doing the best you can to respect the time and energy of each candidate—it’s good for everyone.
  • Be clear about your culture
    Where at all possible, include information on your company culture in the hiring process. Make sure your description honestly illuminates what it’s like to work for you. When you’re interviewing candidates, try convincing them not to take the job. Tell them about all the aspects of the role they might find challenging or frustrating. If they are still interested in the role, then you know you’ve got someone who is genuinely ready to take it on.

Regarding resumes

When hiring managers review resumes, it’s common for them to look for things that they deem as red flags. These could be:

  • Gaps in work (large chunks of time between employment)
  • Short stints at more than one job
  • Jobs worked below their skill level
  • Jobs worked that don’t apply to the traditional career trajectory for people with their skills

But it’s more critical than ever that recruiters take a second look at these practices. Assuming you know what each of these means on a resume isn’t just selling yourself short on potentially qualified candidates—it’s directly harmful to the job-seeking community.

With coronavirus causing mass layoffs, many people might have gaps on their resume or have to work jobs that don’t match up with their skill level. They may work temp jobs or positions that don’t relate to their field. This is not a defect. It is merely a fact of life working in a struggling economy. Do everyone a favor, and don’t assume anything. Make a note and bring it up in the interview and find out more from the candidate. You may be surprised by what you find.

Virtual onboarding

While you may not be hiring right now and don’t feel an intense pressure to create new systems for integrating remote onboarding into your process, you will eventually. Even outside of COVID, remote work is here to stay, which means that recruiters need to buckle down and figure out how they can meet the needs of new employees working virtually.

The good news is there are a lot of really great resources out there to help you design a successful onboarding process. Do your research and cover all the bases. The last thing you want is to bring someone on who struggles to connect with your culture, doesn’t feel a part of the team, and gets lost in the shuffle because they aren’t physically in front of anyone.

Don’t get complacent

However it is you keep your practices up-to-date, make sure you’re paying attention. As job seekers and recruiters alike adjust to the demands of our new world, it’s important to remind yourself not to get complacent. There will always be room for improvement and growth. Remember, the hiring process should be seen as sacred at your company, and treated with the attention and care it (and your candidates) deserve.

 

Photo by Volodymyr Melnyk

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

HR’s Secret Weapon: Marketing Communications

If you were asked what HR’s job is, I’m sure you’d come up with a list of answers. Keeping the company in compliance, managing workplace risk, providing resources and support to employees, payroll, hiring top talent, maintaining a positive company culture… the list goes on and on. But what ties this all together? 

Communication. 

HR has the responsibility to communicate all this and more to company employees, but all too often the tactics fail to actually get enough attention to be noticed. This is where HR can take some pointers from marketing. Because when it comes down to it, marketing is communication. And HR needs high quality communication to do their job well 

Think about it. How difficult is it to get an employee to read (and understand) their benefits package, or the employee handbook, or any other important information HR needs them to have? Difficult enough to be causing HR professionals some frustrating headaches for sure 

So how do you approach this problem? Following are some marketing tips HR can apply to their communication tactics to getand hold, the attention they need. 

Send out a weekly or monthly email/ newsletter  

HighlightsUse this to highlight work events that are coming up, give a shout-out to a team or employee who has gone above and beyond or completed a big project, and talk about things you want the entire company to know about. This could be an upcoming employee survey, a deadline for enrollment for benefits, or a reminder about checking tax withholdings to help employees prepare for tax season.  

PerksOverview the perks you offer to employees such as opportunities for personal development and career coaching, company retreats, and PTO. Keep the resources you make available to employees top of mind 

GoalsReview company goals and how specific teams and departments can help reach them. This is a great opportunity to highlight what different teams are doing to reach the same overarching goal. This can help align departments and keep everyone focused and feeling the team spirit. Plus, if you give a shout-out to a team or an individual, you’re creating a culture of appreciation and recognition! Talk about a good employee retention strategy!  

TeamworkThis also encourages different departments to see how they support each other, further bringing the community together. The more clarity there is about how teams work together and support each other, the higher functioning the company. And the less time HR spends on mitigating interdepartmental disputes.  

Attract the talent your company is looking for  

Marketing works to help guide people from being prospects to customers by meeting them at all the various points of contact they might have with your company. It’s marketing’s job to draw customers in with useful information, content offers, and guidance specifically targeted to where they are in their journey to becoming a customer.  

HR can take the same approach with attracting the type of employees they want working for the company, sometimes even hitting two birds with one stone.  

For instance, you can create a video highlighting your company values, perhaps interviewing aemployee about their experience or covering a recent charitable event your company hosted or participated in. This type of content is not only one of the more successful types of content marketing, but it could also help promote you to prospective employees. People tend to want to buy from (and work for) a company that shares their values and makes them feel good.  

HR can also take a page from marketing’s book by streamlining the process to apply. Just like you want to make it as easy as possible for customers to interact with your company (i.e., providing social icons for sharing and having easy options for answering questions and contacting support) you want to make it as easy as possible for job seekers to apply to work for you. You can: 

  • Keep the process down to five minutes or less  
  • Offer useful information at different points of the application process to help applicants discover more about you and what to expect throughout the application process 
  • Convey your company values and culture through the job description 
  • Highlight the perks and benefits your company offers 
  • Showcase the employee development and training services you offer 

Great communication = trust 

When it comes down to it, HR has a lot on its plate. So make it easier by learning to communicate often, clearly, and with the employee (or prospective employee) in mind. The better you communicate, the more people feel they can trust you, and the easier it is to do your job. It also means you get your message across in a way that sticks. 

As an HR professional, you work so hard to make other people’s jobs easier and to help provide useful information that will support and inform employees. We know how challenging it can be to find successful channels for communicating. So next time you’re looking for an effective way to provide that helpful information, think about how marketing would approach it and try using some of these tactics to help you. It’ll maximize the work you’ve done to provide support, and it’ll help them receive it.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
 
Photo by

alesmunt