You won’t often hear the words “engaging” and “benefits guide” in close proximity.
“Boring”? Yes. “Confusing?” Sure. If we’re being generous, you might hear something like, “It gets the job done.”
But engaging? Absolutely not. Benefits guides are necessary evils to the typical employee, dense tomes packed with arcane language they must laboriously decipher to gain even the slightest understanding of that year’s benefit options.
It’s no wonder that many employees opt to simply skim through their benefits guides — if they open them at all — overlooking critical information like enrollment deadlines, the differences between plans, and new benefits.
Reading about benefits shouldn’t be a chore. The following five strategies derived from modern design and communications best practices will help you transform your organization’s benefits guide into an engaging and enlightening read:
1. Reinforce Key Points With Callouts, Tables, and Graphical Elements
You may not expect your employees to read every word of their benefits guide, but you do want them to come away with crucial facts such as decision deadlines and the coverage levels offered by each health plan.
Design elements such as callout boxes, tables, and explanatory graphics can help break up the monotony of long blocks of text and draw your employees’ eyes to these essential points. You might also consider ending each section with a skimmer-friendly bullet-point summary.
2. Create an Online Version
Online benefits guides are not only better for the environment and more accessible than paper versions, but they can also include enhanced multimedia features such as video explainers. Online guides can also use links and search functions to help employees quickly navigate to the information they need.
Keep in mind that many of your employees will be reading their online benefits guide on their smartphones, so be sure to optimize your layout for mobile consumption.
3. Tell Stories
Storytelling is — and has been for the history of the human species — one of the most compelling methods for sharing information. Stories help people visualize scenarios and place dry facts in context.
In terms of benefits, stories can help your employees translate the bland language of copays, deductibles, premiums, and coverage into real-world outcomes. For example:
- “Mark is a 27-year-old non-smoker with no history of health problems. He chooses a high-deductible health plan because he doesn’t expect to need much health care over the coming year and wants to use the savings to pay for a new car.”
- “Julie is planning to have a baby during the coming year. She opts for a plan with a lower deductible to avoid high unexpected medical costs related to the birth. She also searches to ensure her trusted obstetrician is in her plan’s network.”
Employees can put themselves in the shoes of the main “character” in each scenario and quickly understand the differences in coverage and costs between plans.
(Note that hypothetical stories may seem too generalized to many employees and not applicable to their personal situations. Decision-support tools can help these employees envision the impact of various plan decisions in their own lives.)
4. Don’t Be Afraid to ‘Dumb It Down’
Human resources professionals sometimes forget that they know a lot more about benefits than the average employee. Basic benefits jargon that might seem self-explanatory to you might leave your employees feeling like they’ve been thrown into the deep end.
Go easy on your employees by providing a glossary of terms in your benefits guide. Remember, the idea is to help your employees make informed decisions. It’s always more effective to err on the side of over-explaining.
Terms that might trip up your employees (especially newer employees) include:
- Out-of-pocket maximum
- In-network, out-of-network
If your benefits guide is online, you can link to or embed videos that explain essential terms and concepts. (Nearly half of employees consider video the most engaging form of communication.) Start with this free, professionally-produced video explaining key health insurance terms, and then explore our library of over 75 ready-made videos covering the topics employees ask about the most.
5. Use a Professionally-Designed Template
A great-looking, functional benefits guide shouldn’t require a master’s degree in design. At Flimp, we have curated a collection of dozens of beautiful professionally-designed benefits guide templates built for readability and easy navigation.
Not sure what to write? We’ve got you covered there, too.
Our library of easy-to-understand message points about the most common topics accelerates the development of your benefits guide. HR teams that heavily tap into our design and content libraries can have their guides ready in as little as a week.
If you need a higher degree of customization, we will work with you to develop a truly unique guide using your organization’s branding, colors, imagery, and benefits details.