For most organizations, employee benefits communication kicks into high gear during open enrollment season. During this time, there is a surge in emails, educational webinars, fliers throughout the office, and a barrage of forms demanding signatures.
Post open enrollment, however, employees often receive minimal information about their benefits. While sporadic email updates or new laminated signs in the office kitchen may occur, a comprehensive, year-round employee benefits communication plan is often lacking.
This oversight represents a significant missed opportunity. An annual approach is insufficient to ensure that employees genuinely comprehend and effectively utilize their benefits.
When employers use a year-round approach to fully educate their employees on their benefits offerings, employees benefit both in their personal well-being and financial security. Employers also benefit from increased employee engagement, leading to a more creative work environment, reduced stress levels, higher employee retention rates, and potentially higher profitability. Establishing a year-round employee benefits communication plan is crucial.
One way to establish an engaging year-round employee communication plan is through a calendar-based approach. Creating a monthly or quarterly calendar allows for the concentration on a series of topics related to benefits throughout the year. Q4 is the optimal period to highlight open enrollment, while the remaining three quarters provide an opportunity to dive into specific benefit categories such as health, lifestyle, and wealth.
Think about what will be on the top of employee’s minds over the next several months and create a calendar that speaks to those needs. Here is an example of a quarterly calendar:
Q1: In the beginning of the new year, the mantra is “New Year, New You!” What benefits can help employees plan for their future throughout the year – and take the stress out of the decision-making process?
Q2: With the weather beginning to warm up and the beginning of spring, many employees start to be more active and spend more time outdoors. What benefits address overall health and well-being?
Q3: Summertime means vacations for many families. This is a good time to address a healthy work-life balance and to give reminders about time off and childcare benefits.
Q4: When the weather starts to turn cooler, Q4 is in full gear! And that means one thing: Open Enrollment Season. Do your employees have the information to help them pick the right plan for the upcoming year?
Here is an example of some themes to incorporate into a monthly calendar:
Benefits education is communicating information about available benefits in ways that employees can connect to and understand. Communicating benefits information year-round is important because employees’ lives – and their situations – are constantly changing. They get married, divorced, adopt a child or have medical challenges arise. They are thinking about their health and financial security and how to adapt to it. If employees are engaged with their benefits throughout the year, they are more likely to value and use their benefits and will be better informed about their decisions and/or changes they need to make during the next Open Enrollment period!
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