Brenda Hunt, Project Manager
Many employers don’t realize the importance of employee communication, specifically with regard to their benefits package. It is often misconceived how employee benefits (and employees’ understanding of them) can influence and tie into their recruitment and retention strategies. Providing consistent communication is an effective way to show employees that they are valued by their employer, thus making this a crucial aspect in maintaining a favorable employee-employer relationship.
In my experience, both on a personal and professional level, benefit communication can play a huge part in how an employee perceives their organization. For instance, I know of employers that provide a very robust benefits package to their employees, but do not have an effective method of sharing this information. This can result in a poor understanding of the benefits available, which then leads to employees feeling unappreciated
On the reverse side, I know of employers who provide a moderate or below average benefits package to their employees but in return administer an effective communication program that allows employees to fully comprehend their benefits. The outcome of this develops a higher morale and ultimately a more loyal employee.
It used to be that new employees were handed a packet of materials on their first day of employment or at orientation. These packets included benefits information, the employee handbook, holiday schedules, etc. Being given so much information at one time can be overwhelming. A lot of the vital information can be forgotten quickly, not to mention a lot of the materials can be misplaced or shoved in a file cabinet at home never to be seen again.
Today, technology provides us with a number of communication channels to use. With so many different approaches to establishing a consistent and effective benefit communication program, it can be an overwhelming for any employer.
At ISG Advisors, we have implemented a few different strategies to assist employers in developing an efficient benefit communication process.
One example would be our Electronic Benefits Information Network, or (as we like to call it) eBin. eBin is a user-friendly, personalized website that house all of an organization’s employee benefit information in one spot that is accessible 24/7 by employees. A page is created for each benefit or topic based on what the employer chooses, and includes the option to upload videos, documents, contact information, and more specific to that benefit.
We work closely with employers to build and customize their eBin site to meet their needs. Once the site is created, we conduct group presentations onsite to show employees what the site consists of and how to navigate through it.
Some employers use their eBin site for new hire orientation, while others find the website a suitable means of helping them meet their compliance obligations. The ISG team even uses it to conduct open enrollment meetings for employers instead of a basic program such as PowerPoint slideshow.
Employee meetings often mean a plethora of information, so at the end of each session we emphasize to employees that all the information discussed is accessible to them anytime, anywhere by visiting their eBin site. I’ve actually heard employees give a sigh of relief when they are told they now have simple way of accessing this information whenever they need to.
Another employee communication tool that we have found to be very useful is Value Focus, our customized employee benefit statements. Comprehensive benefit packages often account for a third or more of an employer’s total employee-related costs. However, studies have shown that many employees do not understand the cost or value of their employer-paid benefits, leading them to be dissatisfied.
We work diligently with employers in gathering employee data to generate these personal statements. Once all the pertinent information is received, we prepare and print the statements here at our office.
Similar to eBin, we then go onsite to present the statements to the employees either in group meetings or on an individual basis. We go through the statements thoroughly to educate and inform employees on all of their benefits and to show them that their total compensation goes above and beyond just their salary. The outcome is that employees better understand just how valuable they are to the organization, resulting in a higher gratitude for the employer. A common reaction we receive from employees after these meetings is “wow” or “I never thought of it that way.”
To me, it’s exciting when employees light up and become enthusiastic about the topic of benefits, as it is often thought of as a dull subject. These are just a few of the many tools that we have developed to assist employers with their benefit communication process.