As most companies approach this year’s annual enrollment period, it’s the time of the mammoth employee benefits campaign. Companies work feverishly to develop and distribute newsletters, booklets, websites, calculator, videos, etc. to inform employees about benefit changes and enrollment deadlines. It’s the Super Bowl of benefits communications.

Enrollment communications are important. For many companies, it’s the time primary time when they communicate about their benefits. But, after all that work (not to mention money), wouldn’t you like to get more bang for your communication dollar?

Maybe it’s time to think about benefits communications from a completely different perspective.

First of all, we assume that our employees are rational, decision-makers who will absorb all of the benefits information we put in front of them. Not a good assumption. Your employees are busy people with little time (or interest?) to spare on benefits communications. So, how do you reach them?

Consider applying these advertising principles to your benefits communications:

  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. We often need to hear a message multiple times before it sinks in. So, make sure to reiterate it frequently.
  • Target the message. What appeals to Bob might not appeal to Sue. You may need to consider multiple audiences instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Appeal to employee “wants” instead of “needs.” Most of us know what we need, but we make decisions based on what we want. For example, most employees know they should complete a Health Risk Questionnaire to learn more about their health risks. But, employees may be more willing to complete the Questionnaire if there is a financial reward attached.
  • Focus on the employee, not the plan. It’s natural to want to promote certain aspects of your medical plan. After all, you’ve just spent weeks or months working on the design. But, participants don’t care how good you think the prescription drug plan is – they want to know how they can get in and out of the drug store with the least amount of hassle and cost.
  • Make it fun. Benefits don’t have to be dry and boring. Most companies spend a great deal of money on the plans they offer. So don’t be afraid to use humor, interesting images, and provocative language to reinvigorate employee interest in your plans.

To sell your employees on your benefits, you need to entice them, excite them, and engage them. Think bite-size chunks instead of mounds of materials. Use bright colors, active images and snappy language to get their attention. Focus on what’s important and relevant. And, above all, make it easy.

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