Benefits Communicator or Marketer?

Most benefits administration and human resources professionals would agree that for decades, their benefits communication efforts have focused on education – helping plan participants understand their options and make more informed decisions at enrollment. Health care reform and increased pressure to control health care cost increases are forcing employers to become much more aggressive. Many are beginning to expand their role from communicator to marketer in an effort to help employees do their part to help manage costs and take control of their own well-being.

Evidence that communication at open enrollment is not  enough has been reflected in 2 recent surveys. The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report showed that more than 75% of the 2,200 adults surveyed admitted making mistakes that cost them money during open enrollment. Nearly the same majority said they rarely or never understand what’s covered by their health care plan. A survey conducted by The Futures Company, Hewitt and the National Business Group on Health, revealed that half of the 3,000 employees responding said they would like a personalized plan recommending actions they should take. Another 40% said they would like to go to a wellness website and 35% said they’d like to receive personalized health tips and reminders on a regular basis.

From Open Enrollment to Open Communication

When complex information is pushed at people just prior to decision time, as is often the case with open enrollment, it’s easy to feel pressured. Rather than becoming engaged and learning things we can draw upon in the future, we grasp only what’s needed to make a choice. The time has come to provide smaller amounts of helpful information on a regular basis – consistently throughout the year. To help you better engage employees in their health and well-being, we’ll continue to discuss “internal benefits marketing” in future newsletters. For now, you might want to consider these thoughts…

  • While intranets have been popular, a branded, benefits web page can be accessed from home where family members can share the information.
  • Social media and mobile platforms can help reach busy employees, especially millennials accustomed to getting their information digitally, in small doses.
  • When information is available on a website or blog, it can be accessed any time, even months later.
  • Short video clips, which can be produced much more quickly and economically today, offer a great way to vary your media and add life to your campaign.

To view other articles from the SIP Summer Newsletter, please click here.

In cooperation with NAEBA

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