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This time of year, it’s hard not to have at least one classic holiday song stuck in your head.


The one currently tormenting me is Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, and specifically that line where the jolly old fellow is making a list and checking it twice.

The thing is, from a benefits perspective, this is pretty heady stuff.

Think about it, Santa spends a good amount of time analyzing data from the prior year to determine if you’ve been naughty or nice. Then, based on these conclusions, he creates a plan, validates it and then implements it. This is how he is able to get little Johnny the art set he wants, and little Susie her new bike. What Santa brings is 100 percent personalized.

At a very high level, this is the same process we use for effective benefits communication.

The challenge lies in effectively balancing all three. Today’s HR and benefits pros are doing a lot more with fewer resources, so sometimes implementation is all that gets tackled, and it gets done in a big way during Annual Enrollment.

But, that’s not best practice and, while it gets results, likely they’re not the results you need. Imagine if Santa was only able to deliver gifts but didn’t have the bandwidth to do the pre-work? Everyone would get something, but it might not be what they really wanted or needed.

The planning and validating are what inform the delivery, whether it’s holiday gifts or benefits communication. If you want to avoid getting coal in your benefits communication stocking, here’s how to do it.

  1. Understand employee behavior. We certainly don’t advocate watching employees while they’re sleeping or knowing when they’re awake (although they should likely be awake while they’re working.) And, we’ll reserve judgement on naughty or nice. What we do want to understand is what options employees are choosing and how they are using their benefits. Your benefits administration and claims data holds the key. Get it, look at it, and start to draw some conclusions.
  2. Set concrete, measurable goals. Once you understand what your employees are doing, you can see the shortfalls and create a plan to address them. For example, are few people taking advantage of an annual physical exam? Is supplemental LTD a non-starter? Are employees consistently forfeiting FSA dollars at year-end? These are the types of issues you can address with a robust communications and education strategy.
  3. Create a strategy to meet your objectives. Once you have a few specific goals you want to achieve, you can build your plan around them. The plan should include a focus on personalization. For example, if you want to address FSA forfeiture, it doesn’t make sense to send messaging to people in an HSA. When your goals are specific, your communications need to follow suit.

It’s truly the perfect time of year to begin drafting your communications wish list. Unlike Santa, you don’t have to brave cold weather, keep a stable of reindeer, or complete all your work in one night. You have a full 12 months to develop and deliver effective, personalized benefit communications to your employees, no sliding down chimneys required. 

Looking for opportunities to communicate throughout the year? How about 12? That's one per month. Check out our e-book.

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