As paper and postage rates go up, connect employees to benefits in new ways.
The last two years have been marked by levels of disruption and scarcity that many Americans have never known. From toilet paper to semi-conductors, the world continues to feel the squeezes brought on by COVID-19 in supply chain problems, rising inflation, and more.
2022 is giving us a global paper shortage that will affect multiple sectors. Election officials are even scrambling to get enough paper for ballots and registration forms for the 2022 mid-terms. Without some proactive planning, this shortage will leave schools and businesses in the lurch as well.
In a one-two punch that could impact HR teams’ annual enrollment mailings this year, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is proposing an approximate 6.5% rate hike for first-class mail, rounding up the cost of a Forever stamp from 58 cents to 60 cents. USPS is exploring additional postage increases as well.
But what about my annual enrollment postcards?
Now might be a good time to dig out that marketing hat and try new and different communication tactics for annual enrollment announcements, benefits engagement, and other health care education. In marketing, we call this “omni-channel engagement,” meaning using several methods of communication to reach an audience—or in this case, employees.
Employers should think about communicating the benefits they offer as though they were selling a product. Most people are not going to read the fine print in the benefits guide, but it is possible to have that key information provided to them at the right moment. Benefits access helps employees make good decisions for themselves and their families.
Benefits engagement best-practices for 2022:
Consider the audience(s).Employee groups are not monolithic—in today’s workforce, age, socio-economic level, race, and education level vary widely. Jot down some ideas about who makes up various divisions or groups, and how to best reach them with benefits information. For employees who work onsite, for instance, posters or info screens might be an effective tactic. On the other hand, for a group that works remotely, a live webinar might be better.
Change the channel.Audiences and channels go hand in hand. Is there a resource the HR team hasn’t tried yet? Can the marketing or IT team help create a web page? Does the benefits administrator have some AE communications packages or support? Does a social media page fit for the target audience? Can text messaging or graphic emails support strategies? How about a 10-minute benefits webinar or a short video? Pull in help from other groups or create a cross-departmental AE task committee to help.
Think through the hierarchy of information.To do this, imagine all the necessary benefits information like a poster. On a well-designed poster, there’s a large headline, then typically a date and place that are prominent. Additional information is available, but the font or placement might be less prominent. Approaching benefits information is the same. What’s the biggest deal this AE? Changes to the plan? Active enrollment for everyone? Rate shifts? Come up with a “Top 5 Things to Know” to get started and add in additional details as needed.
Infuse some fun!High deductibles and accident coverage are serious and important topics, to be sure. But don’t neglect the fact that people love a good contest, prizes, and new ways to engage. Ever imagine a benefits scavenger hunt, with prizes from carriers and vendor partners? “Giveaway” perks like a Friday afternoon off or bonus points in a wellness program? Even “Benefits Bingo?” Gamifying benefits doesn’t have to be costly, but it can pay off big when audiences engage more and have more access to their benefits information.
We recently created a virtual benefits fair for a client, and their commitment to gamify the process yielded three times the employee viewership that what we’ve seen on similar sites without game element. Additionally, the employees gave great feedback, affirming they liked the format and presentation. To top it off, total voluntary benefits enrollment far exceeded the client’s expectations.
Perks of digital benefits access
While in this creative zone, organizations must remember that most of this same information is needed for employees throughout the year and for new hires as they onboard. It’s efficient and easy to repurpose the work put into communications strategies for annual enrollment. And continue to create some paper and postage-free ways to get benefits information in the hands of employees.
Leverage digital tools—like a phone tree or text messaging service, and benefits administrator services, like a log-in page or added layout. Perhaps leaders need to consider an investment in additional services or options for a mobile app or more advanced communications assistance.
It's time to branch out and explore the possibilities that don’t rely solely on traditional snail mail.
Meet employees where they are with the right messages. To learn more about Businessolver’s benefits communications practice, check this out.