By Meagan Tyson

Employee engagement is top of mind in Canada’s competitive job market, especially as many studies show engagement impacts the bottom line. In fact, studies of companies across North America show that disengaged employees can cost businesses up to $550 billion each year.1 On the flip side, companies with engaged employees increase customer satisfaction by as much as 40% and improve profitability by nearly 30%.2

Creating a robust benefits communication strategy is key if you want to show true value to employees and improve employee engagement in the process. But if you’re like most HR teams, you’re overwhelmed with the idea of providing supportive, ongoing and easy-to-access benefits information to your employees.

Why bother with benefit communications?

Employee benefits can be confusing, but they are also critically important to your employees. Even with the best benefits offerings, failing to communicate complex or non-traditional offerings to your employees won’t help you attract and retain top talent.

If you’re like many employers, you’ve invested significant resources to offer a good benefits program – so you probably want your employees to appreciate and use their benefits. By taking the time to communicate those benefits, you’ll help your employees make informed decisions and avoid being over- or under-insured.

Help them focus on the right things by providing benefits communications around:

  • Open enrolment: Providing information on dates, basic categories of coverage, and where to go for additional information can help your employees start off on the right foot.
  • Supplemental medical: This is the biggest variable in employee benefits. Clearly defining how much is covered and how often will help your employees decide what is important for them.
  • Retirement/pension: Providing education on options, requirements for participation, and company match is invaluable.
  • Prescription drugs: Today’s prescription drug landscape is changing rapidly. Providing information on varying costs and ways to save can be critical.
  • Health spending accounts and lifestyle spending accounts: Clearly defining appropriate use of these accounts can go a long way toward educating employees and future planning.

Once you’re ready to communicate your benefits, begin with a solid strategy that engages employees before, during and after enrolment. Simple communication is key to engage employees, and initiating a multi-channel approach (including digital and print) is essential. Among the various avenues, your strategic plan should include some, if not all, of the following methods of communication:

  1. Email: Today’s primary form of employee/employer communication, but must be used in conjunction with at least one other form of communication
  2. Print materials: Brochures and flyers can promote voluntary benefits and support an in-depth explanation of plans
  3. Face-to-face discussion: Any voluntary discussion can be either impromptu or pre-planned
  4. Group meetings: Meetings or presentations can be broken out by department or specific benefits
  5. Intranet: A forum for continuous flow of discussion, whether around specific benefit or enrolment announcements
  6. Video: Short video messages, ideal for large gatherings, can be subsequently posted on the Intranet for increased exposure
  7. Avatars: These “talking heads” can guide employees through the decision making process and are ideal for annual benefits plans, such as medical and dental

Start by giving your employees a reason to believe in the advantages of your benefits plan. Continue by providing clear guidance about how enrolment works and how the plans and benefits can be best used at any time. And ensure that two-way dialogue is continually encouraged to provide year-round guidance.

In today’s ever-changing benefits landscape, sending one email company-wide or posting one poster in the lunchroom just doesn’t cut it anymore. Share information broadly and widely to publicize the benefits you are offering to attract and retain top talent.

Talk with your HUB benefits consultant about how you can develop a robust benefits strategy and a series of effective communications. Benefits Communications is one of HUB’s six strategic offerings in Canada.

1 Study: Disengaged employees can cost companies up to $550B a year,

2 Guidespark