According to Unum's 2014 employee benefits report Beyond the Usual Benefits, employees who believe their benefits were effectively communicated are much more likely to feel engaged at work. And according to a 2013 Gallup study, companies with engaged workforces have higher earnings per share (EPS) and recovered from the recession at a faster rate. The Gallup poll reported that organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 147% higher EPS compared to their competition.

"If you want to run a better business, you need to have higher earnings per share. The way to do this is to take the change and complexity that's out there today and turn it into opportunity through stronger education and communication with your employee base," said Joe Torella, President and Employee Benefits Practice Leader, East Region, HUB International. "The companies that get this right will come out ahead of the competition."

Typically, though, employers don't take the time to educate employees about their benefits or they only do so around the annual renewal date, which often sends the message to workers that employers are going to cut benefits, while increasing the cost of their existing plan.

One of the best ways to open the lines of communication during this time of fewer financial resources is to offer voluntary benefits. At little to no extra costs to the employer, voluntary benefits like life insurance, critical and disability insurance, accident insurance, a health and wellness program and auto/homeowners insurance, are offered to employees by outside vendors at a discounted rate because of the volume of potential customers provided by the employer, resulting in a win-win situation for all.

"Using voluntary interaction allows you to have a very effective, targeted message that goes beyond what employees normally hear, creating a constant communication year round," said Joe Torella. "In the last few years, voluntary benefits have taken off because firms realize as they cut back on their spending, they need to offer the employee something. As you address those complications, your employees will become engaged."

The 4 C's

It's this engagement that employers need from their workforce in order to be successful and have higher EPS - and it can result directly from communicating with employees about their benefits. Agypt likes to think of today's complex world of changing benefits in the language of the 4 C's. Here's a simple equation to remember:

Change + Complexity + Compliance = Communications Opportunity

Once you've got the attention of employees in a positive way through the engagement of voluntary benefits, it's time to create a three to five year strategic plan - a road map for benefits communication.

CREATING A ROAD MAP TO EFFECTIVE BENEFITS COMMUNICATION

This road map will detail all the current and future changes to benefits, corporate compliance requirements and an explanation of why the company is making certain choices. All three to five year strategic plans should be communicated in a variety of ways to both ensure that information can be understood by all, regardless of language barriers and learning styles, but also so that employees don't miss any important information. 

The three to five year strategic communications plan should include following avenues of communication:

  1. Email - primary way of employee/employer communication these days, but should only be used in conjunction with at least one other form from the list
  2. Print materials - brochures and flyers can promote voluntary benefits and a more in-depth explanation of plans
  3. Face-to-Face voluntary discussion - can be both impromptu and pre-planned
  4. Group meetings - can break out by employee department or specific benefits
  5. Intranet - a forum for continuous flow of discussion, whether around blog posts or enrollment announcements
  6. Video - ideal for large gatherings, can be subsequently posted on the Intranet for increased exposure
  7. Avatars - these will talk employees through the decision making process and are ideal for annual benefits plans, like medical and dental 

TIP: Brokers like HUB International and their partnering benefits carriers will often have their own tools, including print materials and web resources, that can be leveraged directly by your company, minimizing your business' out of pocket expense in communicating with employees and adding layers of information to your three to five year strategic employee education plan.    

Bringing employees into the process will help them understand where the company is headed and why it's going there. Instead of feeling like an outsider or behind the process, this type of employee engagement can be a differentiator when it comes to lower turnover, increased employee morale and an overall better place to work.

"When the company is doing a good job of communicating and educating employees, they will say, 'I get it; everyone needs to pull their share. The company is so now I need to do mine.'" said Agypt. "Companies that do this will earn higher EPS. Companies who aren't doing this will have missed an opportunity. If you don't do it, what's the alternative?"

HUB International helps companies grow their business by creating a better employee experience through benefits. When you have a better employee experience, you have better employees. When you have better employees, you have a better company. 

Call a HUB benefits representative today to learn how creating a three to five year strategic benefits communication plan can catapult your company to a higher EPS.