The world has never before offered so many different ways to communicate. From various digital channels to good old hardcopy, everyone has their preferred method for sharing and consuming information.
But therein lies the challenge for HR professionals: With so many channels to choose from, how can you be sure your message is getting through to employees?
The answer is not to choose — or at least not to choose just one.
The most effective benefits communication strategies in 2023 are multichannel strategies. Today’s bevy of communication platforms allows you to reach employees wherever they are geographically — in the office, remote, or hybrid — or in life — from tech-native Gen Zers to set-in-their-ways Boomers.
To start building your multichannel benefits-communication strategy, it helps to understand the building blocks at your disposal. There may be more than you realize. Here are some of the best channels for educating employees about their benefits in 2023.
There’s no mystery why video apps like YouTube and TikTok are so popular. People respond to video content — and not just the latest viral sensation. In one survey, 83% of respondents said they preferred video over text and audio for informational or instructional content, which makes video the perfect format for explaining confusing benefits concepts (HDHPs, for example).
Video production sounds intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you don’t need to produce your own videos at all.
At Flimp, we offer an ever-expanding library of professionally produced videos explaining some of the most misunderstood benefits topics, from financial wellness to mental health. Our team can also customize or create entirely new videos for your organization in as little as three weeks.
2. Digital Postcards
At their most basic, Digital Postcards are similar to regular postcards, except in a digital format. But the digital format offers so much more potential than print. Digital Postcards are trackable mini-microsites that can combine visuals (like educational videos) with text and helpful links to additional resources.
Unlike all-text emails, Digital Postcards can be distributed through multiple channels, including email, text messages, corporate intranets, and QR codes.
3. QR Codes on Print Materials
With QR codes, you can offer employees the best of both worlds: the physicality of print and the infinite depth of the digital realm. Everyone these days carries a QR reader in their pocket, and, without the need for special apps, can simply scan a QR code on your print materials and be propelled into a world of useful information online.
QR codes are excellent for providing quick access to your benefits platform, benefits guide, or your decision-support tools (more on those below).
4. Microsites/Employee Portals
Benefits microsites or portals make all the benefits information your employees need available from one location, anytime, via any device. A microsite is a one-stop benefits resource, the first step for your employees to find the answers to their questions, enroll in benefits, view deadlines, access vendor resources, communicate with HR, and more. (Among other things, a benefits microsite is a great place to host explainer videos.)
5. Benefits Guides
Benefits guides are the tried-and-true workhorses of benefits communications. Employees expect to receive them every year (in digital or physical format), and many employees keep them handy to consult during open enrollment and beyond.
If you feel your benefits guide has gotten a bit stale, use these five tips to breathe new life into its look, feel, and usability. Also, consider partnering with a professional design team to create a stunning guide that’s easy to navigate and a pleasure to use.
6. Benefits Decision-Support Tools
Your employees are used to using apps to order dinner, shop for groceries, bank, and even find dates — so why not for choosing benefits? Decision-support tools are web or mobile apps that lead users through a series of questions about their healthcare spending and, then, based on their answers, recommend the best-fitting benefits for their situations.
The best decision-support tools provide an Amazon-like experience, drawing on deep data sets and powerful analytical capabilities behind the scenes to make reliable recommendations with only a handful of questions and a few minutes. Plans are boiled down to numerical value scores, which make comparing plans easy.
Decision-support transforms researching and choosing benefits from a chore to a quick to-do your employees can handle during breakfast or the bus ride home. It’s no surprise that, according to our latest Open Enrollment Case Study and Trends Report, companies that used a decision-support tool saw a 77% engagement rate.
Is a decision-support tool right for your organization? Learn what you need to know here.
Decision Support: Your Secret Weapon for Reducing Healthcare Spending
7. Employee Texting
Emails get ignored. Paper documents get trashed. Phone calls get silenced. But texts, though — everyone reads their text messages. Over 90% of people read their text messages within three minutes of receiving them, and SMS open rates average 98%, compared to a mere 20% for email.
Employee texting is easier to set up than you might think (keeping in mind the various mass-texting regulations). With Flimp’s employee texting platform, you can have your first text out within 24 to 48 hours.
8. Virtual Benefits Fairs
Traditional benefits fairs can turn choosing benefits into an “event,” but they’ve lost some of their luster in recent years. With today’s distributed-workforce model, it’s hard to gather everyone in one place for a benefits fair. And many employees feel overwhelmed or bored at benefits fairs and feel pressured by pushy vendors.
Virtual Benefits Fairs, on the other hand, are accessible from anywhere at any time. Like the microsites or portals described above, Virtual Benefits Fairs can provide on-demand, centralized access to everything your employees need to understand and choose benefit options — minus the high-pressure sales tactics.
Some companies have experimented with Virtual Benefits Fairs that replicate the in-person experience, complete with 3D booths and a show floor. Yours doesn’t have to be that elaborate.
We suggest thinking about your Virtual Benefits Fair as a Virtual Benefits Showcase, including features like links to vendor guides and documents, an enrollment schedule, explainer videos, and pre-recorded and live webinars.
Either in person or online, presentations can kick off open enrollment season and get your employees thinking about their benefits decisions. Benefits presentations are especially effective right at the beginning of onboarding, before your new hires get distracted by learning their jobs and meeting their coworkers.
If it feels like we’ve been putting down email in this article — well, you might be right. In 2023, to put it mildly, email is not a beloved communication channel. According to a recent survey, more than one-third of office workers say “email fatigue” might drive them to quit; 89% of remote workers said sorting through their inboxes is one of the most unpleasant aspects of their jobs.
Nevertheless, email remains a common — and perhaps dominant — form of workplace communication. Keeping in mind that the last thing your employees want is another wordy missive to scrutinize, crafting an email that seems like a breath of fresh air amid a stifling inbox is possible.
Here are some email tips:
- Keep it short. Focus each email on one topic only, and stay under 200 words or so. Use multiple emails to cover multiple topics rather than one long message. (Shorten your subject lines, as well. Subjects of about seven words or less see higher engagement.)
- Include visuals. Videos, charts, and illustrations break up the text and help your emails get more attention.
- Be persistent. Start your email messaging campaign early (well before open enrollment) and keep the (brief, focused) emails coming throughout the year.
Looking for some email-writing inspiration? Steal as much as you want from these three open-enrollment email templates.
11. Monthly Newsletters
Monthly newsletters are another staple of benefits communications. And, even in 2023, they’re still a good idea. Regular newsletters keep employees apprised of their benefit options year-round, encourage utilization, and reduce questions during open enrollment season.
Check out our year-round Benefits Communication Calendar for ideas on what to include in each month’s newsletter.
The most effective benefits communication strategies in 2023 include a mix of several of these 11 channels. Trying to find the right combination for your organization? Let us show you how Flimp can help.