The pandemic has shifted how, when and why employers use technology. Zoom, Teams, Google Meet and Webex have become vital parts of workplace communication. Now, when it comes to benefits communication, we need to be creative in helping employers best determine how and when benefits are conveyed to their employees.
This can be a head-spinning task: Today, there are so many amazing service providers with unique solutions, that as advisers, analysis paralysis can easily occur. But the key to overcoming inertia is by starting with the actual problem before starting the hunt for a solution.
Here are a few basic questions to ask: How did employees access benefits info before COVID-19, and what has changed? Is it easy, or can we make it easier? What is the budget to enhance technological resources to drive a better outcome and reduce inefficiencies in delivering information?
Many times, employers assume or make decisions on behalf of their employees. This is why feedback is king. I challenge us to not assume all employees enjoy receiving information in the same way. The one-time annual open enrollment meeting (now virtual) is just the beginning. We are fortunate to live during this wonderful digital age, because access to information is right at our fingertips. And this industry has plenty of tools to help disseminate information.
So what are some methods we can use to educate the workforces we serve? The solution doesn’t necessarily mean one form of technology is the answer. It can, and often will, be multifaceted if we’re serving a multigenerational or geographically diversified workforce. Consider these steps:
- Create a website
This is one way to effectively create a one-stop-shop for all employees to have access to anything and everything related to benefits. It also serves as a branded focal point that always can be referenced as part of your client’s communication campaign.
- Launch a mobile app
There are several tech firms specifically focused on building custom mobile applications to help employers brand, advocate and deliver effective benefit communication that drives up engagement more than 40%.
- Text message
It’s worth noting that there’s a 98% open rate for texts versus mass emails, which are just in the single digits. Text messaging is an incredible way to deliver bite-size reminders and calls to action. Your dentist office does it, and I’m sure your kids’ pediatrician sends texts as well.
- Video content
The most effective approach involves short 1-2 minute videos hyper focused on a single subject, animated or not (I’ll explain more on that later).
Now, here are some key reminders when creating an ongoing technology-based communication campaign:
- Create a strategy
Take some time to help plan all aspects of the benefit offerings or corporate culture your client would like to display, then have them communicate these offerings.
- Brand the messaging
Continue to use corporate culture terminology in the messaging to reinforce the brand, mission and explain why it’s important. It can be easy to copy and paste items from other entities, but words and images will carry so much more weight when they’re customized to the organization.
- Keep it succinct
Most employees are multi-tasking and, therefore, easily distracted. If they then receive a piece of communication, it needs to be brief but informative enough to create a desired behavior change. Have you been on social media lately? Most videos are less than a minute long. Part of the reason is due to our shrinking average attention span. Bite-size pieces of content are easier to digest than a 20 minute video or essay on how to navigate, say, the next pharmacy visit.
- Keep it simple
This is much harder than it seems, and counterintuitive at times. We have to simplify the complex in order for employees to absorb the data and material. It’s important to keep that in mind when a new hire is wondering how to access an EAP. And just because someone has been with a company for 7 years doesn’t mean they know everything about their benefits, especially since everyone is in a different life stage.
- Call to action
Reminders are good, but a call to action can actually yield results. Imagine a text message, email reminder or push alert sent via a custom mobile app with a call to action. Your client is likely to have higher engagement in the actual reminder itself.
- Target your message
The key is knowing there’s no one-size fits all solution. One of the more advanced communication methods is targeting an actual group.
Not all forms of technology are created equal. When sending out messages to the workforce, remember that short videos from HR or the C-Suite will surely create a more personal touch. Remember that whether your employer client sells a product or a service, the key is to help them ensure that they’re building relationships and not a transactional communication with employees.
By Ed Ligonde | Executive Vice President, Nielsen Benefits Group
Originally posted on EBN