You may be surprised to hear how top human resources professionals responded.
When you were hired, how did you find out about company benefits?
Most employees hope for a comprehensive package of medical insurance and a 401(k). If they’re lucky, a larger employer may include life insurance, a health savings account, or other amazing benefits employees only dream about.
More often than not, new hires are handed a thick folder of carrier brochures, a long list of contact numbers, links to 20+ websites with unique logins and are left to navigate the sea of benefits alone.
Recently, Engage by Cell interviewed several HR professionals from senior level directors to management consultants and Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) leaders to uncover the best practices for employee benefit communication. Here’s what we found out…
What's the best way to communicate with employees on benefit issues?
Several employers report they use email, e-newsletters, regular mail, and an employee intranet. Benefit teams often prepare communications in multiple mediums to reach employees in the mode they prefer. While email is the most common mode, “People don’t open email if it’s not pertinent to them,” reports Patrice Ross, State Director of the Nevada State SHRM Council.
While text messaging has a much higher open rate (95% - 98%) compared to email, many HR professionals are hesitant to adopt text message communication with employees. In fact, some companies have restrictive policies that limit personal cell phone use during the workday.
“It’s best to strategize on what messages are going through what channels. Everyone has a smart phone and being able to capitalize on that instant access is great,” reports Tisch McDaniel, President of M & M Advisory Group, and organizer of DisruptHR Memphis.
Will HR always have a constant flow of benefit questions from employees?
Unavoidably, yes. HR will always be the go-to department for benefit questions. Especially for smaller companies, HR personnel field all questions. One HR professional reported that benefit questions at her company are addressed in person during open enrollment by the benefits brokers themselves.
Larger companies may have HR service teams that direct employees to the right place for answers to questions, but there are definitely ways to minimize calls and emails.
“Benefits departments need to be proactive in communicating about the benefit plans that the company and employees pay for,” says McDaniel.
A mobile benefits portal can ease confusion and reduce redundant questions. Especially for employees who do not work at a desk, don’t have company email, and are on their feet and moving all day. Mobile platforms can include links to websites and forms as well as tap-to-call buttons to facilitate communication with benefit carriers.
How does your company get feedback from their employees on benefits?
Unfortunately, negative feedback often stems from escalated problems with benefit carriers. As a result, some companies create benefit hotlines and dedicated departments to help HR handle these complicated issues. But what about constructive feedback?
“The best way to get feedback from employees on benefits is to ask them,” reports McDaniel. She also suggests that on a company benefits portal, employers should include an area for employee feedback, especially during open enrollment. Other HR professionals also report that employees are surveyed annually, but with an average survey response rate between 30% and 40%, it’s difficult to draw any real conclusions.
So, how can companies increase employee participation and get the feedback needed to shape future benefit decisions? Again, mobile technology is a solution. By placing polls and surveys on a mobile benefits portal, employees can receive a link via text message, click through to complete the survey, and submit—all on their cellphone.
Successful Benefit Communication
Communication shapes company culture. Whether dealing with job applicants, new hires, or 20-year company veterans, HR professionals must have established communication procedures in place to promote a positive, supportive vibe—especially when benefits impact employee well-being. Whether its printed material, emails, hotlines, or websites, HR professionals need to evaluate what method is most effective. With today’s dependence on cellphones, it may be time to consider mobile communication.
Ultimately, successful benefit communication should reach all employees quickly, effectively, and convey the message, “Our company cares about you!”