Here are a few stats that really drive home just how critical benefits communication is for HR pros. According to a recent Towers Watson study:

  • When employees that were offered rich employer benefits received poor communication, just 22% of those workers reported being satisfied with their benefits.
  • On the other hand, when employers with less-rich benefits communicated those benefits effectively, 76% of workers reported being satisfied with their employers’ benefit offerings.

Check out what Ellen Anreder of BCI states about the importance of communications in the HR Practice:

To help assist in your efforts, here are some of the most common — and costly — benefits communication mistakes:

  1. Having boring employee benefits information available only at work. There’s a common misconception among workers that anything about benefits is going to be boring. But when HR pros don’t make the effort to make their benefits presentations interesting, the message is bound to be lost on employees. Also, employees should have access to benefits material at home, via mail or employee portals.
  2. Having all of your communications across one platform. In today’s communication marketplace, there are cost-effective tools that allow communicators to draft compelling and engaging messages across a variety of media. Try a variety of low-cost items like interactive PDFs, video, and rotating PowerPoint presentations on your intranet to allow your employees to comprehend and understand the key points of the message. 
  3. Not allotting enough of the budget to the benefits communications. Upper management often doesn’t have a handle on just how much solid benefits communications are going to cost — at least not in the same way HR does. 
    As Anreder noted, “it’s critical that the employees are informed, and they’re educated on the value of benefits.” Benefits communication must be more detailed than standard inter-office communications.
  4. Believing all workers will bring their benefits info home and discuss it with their family members. They don’t. Effective benefits communication should always try to include spouses and family members. And, the messaging should include encourage this discussion, and have employees compare their plans with their family members’ plans.
  5. Assuming employees will simply act on the messages in the benefitcommunications. It’s up to HR to specifically tell staffers what they should do with the benefits info as well as why.
  6. Believing workers will read their open enrollment materials cover to cover on their own time. The more HR can go over during the actual open enrollment meeting, the better. Of course, enrollment time shouldn’t be the only time benefits info should be addressed. Communication should be a year-long process.
  7. Let Legal draft all of your benefits communications. When employers let a legal department write all your benefits communications, there’s a very good chance the documents will be littered with legalese that confuses employees, bores them to the point of tuning out or both.
  8. Opting for “professional-sounding” language instead of simple “plain-speak” English. Sure, HR pros’ world is filled with jargon, buzzwords and benefits-related acronyms, but rank-and-file employees’ worlds are not. Keep the benefit communications as simple as possible.
  9. Covering too much info. It’s only natural to try and cram everything possible into your open enrollment materials, but when there’s just too much being thrown at employees, they suffer from information overload — and retain little (if any) of what was covered.

Remember, continuous education is a proven way to improve employees’ decision-making regarding their benefits, which should be the goal of every communication effort.