Benefits education with year-round benefits communication:

Three simple tactics to engage employees
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What does benefits education really mean?

Employers can maximize their employee benefits package with benefits education. Benefits education is really about communicating information about available benefits in ways that employees can connect to and understand. It is a key part of annual enrollment. But businesses should also think about communicating this information to their employees throughout the year. It’s essential because employees’ lives — and their situations — are constantly changing, said Rob Quell, VP of Colonial Life.

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Nearly one-third of employees who understand their benefits very well intend to stay with their employer for more than 10 years, according to a recent Colonial Life survey.

Source: Online research administered March 23–30, 2020 by Dynata on behalf of Colonial Life among 1,200 U.S. adults.
“Employees are getting married or divorced,” said Quell in our recent webinar. “They’re adopting a child, or a child is leaving the nest. They’re going through different medical events, or there is a death in the family. So, there is this constant evolution in their lives. They’re thinking about their health and their financial security — and how to adapt to it.” 

How can busy professionals do more to educate their employees?

If employees are engaged with their benefits throughout the year, rather than just during enrollment, they’re more likely to value and use their benefits. And more engaged employees are more productive employees, explained Christopher Bernadine, Chief Enrollment Officer of Meridio. He recommended a three-part strategy for yearlong benefits communication. 
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1. Consider using quarterly themed messages.

For each quarter, identify and focus on sharing one theme. For example:
 
Quarter 1: Employee Wealth Theme. Kick off the new year with messages of financial protection and planning with life insurance, disability coverage and financial budgetary tools. 
 
Quarter 2: Health and Wellbeing Theme. In the second quarter, it’s the onset of spring and the perfect time to switch up the messaging to health and wellbeing. Communications can include topics like health screenings, employee health advocate services and dental and vision preventive care. 
 
Quarter 3: Work/Life Balance Theme. Communicate information about value-added services that may accompany disability plans and help them with their everyday lives, such as Employment Assistance Program (EAP), Legal Services or using their paid time off. 
 
Quarter 4: Open Enrollment Theme. Focus on information about open enrollment, including expected changes in coverage and reminders about guaranteed issue expiration dates.
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2. Keep benefits communications simple.

Use short, consistent messages that employees can easily consume. Use a mix of formats across various platforms to reach all employees based on their preferences including emails, digital postcards, mobile texts, corporate announcements, brochures, educational videos and links to a central hub for benefits information.

It’s great to try and incorporate news ways to engage your workforce, but make sure you’re utilizing how you normally communicate with employees. One company may use a Slack channel, but another company may reach its employees with email or even physical notices. 
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3. Save time and resource by repurposing materials.

Many HR professionals don’t have the time or resources to create new messaging. They can take a shortcut and repurpose open enrollment materials like brochures, digital postcards and links to informational videos and links to articles. They can also ask their broker or insurance provider if they have additional content and tools they can easily adapt with company branding.
It doesn’t take many resources to implement these three tactics to engage employees with their benefits throughout the year. And well-informed employees make better benefits decisions. HR professionals can discover more resources on benefits education below.