How to Communicate About Benefits So Employees Feel Informed

Only 2.9 percent of employees report a “very high” understanding of their benefits, according to a survey conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans.

Whether employees don’t understand the communication materials or don’t see value in the benefits their employer provides, trying to understand plans can be confusing, stressful and frustrating. Luckily, as a communications professional, you can provide quality education to help employees feel supported and informed.

Why You Need to Clearly Communicate Employee Benefits

When employees are preoccupied by financial or health-related stress, they tend to be more distracted and less productive at work. In fact, according to the 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, employees experiencing financial hardship “report considerably higher stress levels, more absence and presenteeism (i.e. at work, but out of it) and significantly lower levels of work engagement.” By clearly and candidly discussing how employees can get the most out of their benefits, you can impact employee productivity and engagement.

4 Great Ways to Communicate Employee Benefits

Employees want benefits, but they don’t like reading lengthy PDF attachments or jargon-filled forms. How can you successfully educate your employees and avoid benefits amnesia?

  1. Conduct research and set objectives. Interview employees or conduct a survey to understand what employees know and what they don’t know. Then brainstorm how to get them from point A to point B.
  2. Create a single hub for all benefits collateral. Benefits tend to be overwhelming because information is scattered across powerpoints, handouts and electronic forms. Maintain a single location for all information related to benefits.
  3. Eliminate industry speak. Read your benefits communications and translate jargon into plain English. It’s hard for employees to remember something they don’t understand. You don’t want your communications to seem condescending, but err on the side of simplicity.
  4. Encourage active learning. During informative presentations, test employee knowledge by incorporating quizzes (with prizes, of course). As noted by Harvard Business Review, “It requires effort to get information into explicit memory. The more deeply that your audience thinks about the points you make, the more likely they are to remember what you told them later.”

By clearly and strategically discussing benefits, you can help employees feel informed and supported. This tends to have a causal effect on employee productivity and engagement.

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