There’s magic in threes. And when it comes to developing a successful benefits utilization strategy, your people, partners and technology all hold key roles.
Utilization begins with effective communication. But HR continues to struggle to find the most effective ways to get employees to listen - and engage. In a recent study conducted by Aptitude Research Partners, 46 percent of HR professionals report they have difficulty getting employees’ attention, and 48 percent report their employees aren’t reading their written communications.¹
So, how do you break through the communications barrier – without breaking your budget?
Combine and layer the immediate resources found in your employees, your providers and your technology.
People: Managers and leaders are your most effective benefits ambassadors
There’s nothing more effective than an employee’s personal testimonial about the use of a benefit – shared in their own voice, directly with another employee, at a timely moment. And your managers sit in the best position to help fill this role of trusted benefits ambassador. Not only are managers often in life phases that afford both opportunity for and experience in using diverse benefits, but they can also channel feedback to leadership. Their integral role in review, promotion and team meetings provide additional regular forums for reinforcing company benefits in a personal setting.
Benefits ambassadors need both accurate information and regular training from HR to effectively guide employees. In addition, easily-digested, consistent language that communicates the value and meaning of a benefit in real-life context will help it resonate.
Leaders who walk the talk are also a powerful component of your benefits utilization strategy. An executive who takes full advantage of maternity leave or a sabbatical program makes a major impact on the entire organization. And encouraging leadership to share their experiences through one-on-one conversations, as well as through recorded video or a personal statement shared in a newsletter or company-wide meeting helps ensure the word gets heard.
Partners: Benefits providers and subject matter experts provide an additional, trusted human touch
Offer your employees frequent, and varied forums and formats for meeting with representatives from your benefits and service providers, enabling them to ask questions and discuss matters in small group settings or during one-on-one time slots. Consider bringing in neutral subject matter experts, like Certified Financial Planners, personal trainers or senior care specialists to lead lunch-time seminars and offer personal consultations. Or, offer before- and after-work options to allow for partners and spouses to join in the conversation.
Utilizing partner relationships to educate employees saves both time and money for HR and employees alike, and provides an additional, trusted, human touch for marketing your benefits. Just make sure those you bring in are there strictly to educate, not to sell. And that they use easy-to-understand language, not industry jargon.
Technology: Mobile applications and use of video are highly effective at engaging employees
Two of the fastest-growing tech trends in the employee engagement equation are the use of mobile applications and video. A recent study from the ADP Research Institute found that “mobile access to HR information can be 60 percent more engaging than traditional web access,” and Aptitude Research Partners found that organizations reporting high engagement are 85 percent more likely to use video in their benefits communications.²
If your current technology partners do not provide mobile applications as part of their platform, it may be time to re-evaluate. And if your vendor does provide it and you’re not using it, start now. You can also supplement your current solutions by checking out this list of top HR apps (many are free or low-cost). And be sure to use social media as an additional platform for pushing time-sensitive messaging (with the support of video) to employee’s mobile devices.
When it comes to video, production can be as simple as using a Smartphone in a company conference room or employee’s office. HubSpot recently published a great blog post with simple tips for producing quality videos. Overall, the more authentic and personal in tone, the better. Consider creating both a library of standard, HR-produced topics, as well as testimonial-style videos featuring a diverse range of your employees sharing stories of how they’ve utilized their benefits.
A comprehensive utilization strategy addresses effective communication, increased engagement and improved employee experience. But at its core, lies the preservation and growth of the unique and delicate relationship each employee has with their employer. Combining the assets of your people, partners and technology to speak with your employees in the right way at the right time will not only boost utilization of benefits, but will also earn their loyalty.
1 Source: Aptitude Research Partners, "Hire, Engage, Retain Study," 2016. All rights reserved.
2 Source: Aptitude Research Partners, "Hire, Engage, Retain Study," 2016. All rights reserved.
HR Leaders Also Read:
- Looking Beyond HR to Drive Benefits Utilization
- Put it on Blast: Maximize HR Communication Channels for Higher Utilization
- 9 Ways to Gamify Your Wellness Program
- You Had Me at Benefits: A Consumerist Guide to Making Employees Fall in Love with Their Benefits
- Lost in Translation: 5 HR Disconnects and How to Overcome Them