On this last day of 2015, are you reflecting on the past year or planning for the year ahead?
I, for one, am ready to hang my new calendar and kick off the New Year.
2016 is sure to be a big year in employee benefits. Between Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting, concern about specialty pharmacy costs and countless advances in HR technology, our industry seems to be in constant flux. (Check out an infographic, “What 12 Trends Will Shape Your New Year,” for more on the changes Lockton Benefit Group is forecasting.)
While at times exciting, change – especially when it comes to employee benefits – can also be unsettling and, at times, downright scary. Yet another reason why employee communications are so important.
By communicating early and often with your employees about any possible changes (whether good or bad), you’ll go a long way toward boosting morale, job satisfaction and overall retention.
Need a little help getting started? Here are a few tips:
Don’t wait. It’s important to begin sharing news of any kind of change as early as possible. Is your company considering moving to a private exchange? Start talking about the advantages with employees as soon as possible. Beginning the conversation early gives employees time to think, ask questions and embrace whatever change is headed their way. Your employees should never be caught off guard with changes to their benefits. Surprises are only truly welcome on birthdays, am I right?
Share the message multiple ways. Perhaps your company is moving to a new retirement planning platform. Sure, an email is a good first step, but quickly follow up with a story on the company Intranet, a post to your company’s social platform if you have one, a home mailing and a webcast with a live Q & A. The more you share the message, through as many channels as possible, the more your employees will understand and engage.
Own your actions. Change isn’t always positive; we all know that. If your company is making changes your employees won’t appreciate – like taking away benefits or company perks – be open and honest. Don’t try to hide the downsides of your decision. Acknowledge that there may be negative implications. Apologize if necessary. But stick to your decision!
Facilitate feedback. Create a way for employees to share their feedback. Has your wellness program changed, providing fewer rewards and demanding more results in return? Allowing employees to share their ideas and concerns (perhaps through a survey or a town hall meeting) helps them feel valued and also gives the company important insight.
As we celebrate this last day of 2015 and begin planning for the New Year, remember that change is important … and inevitable. Be prepared for whatever 2016 may bring with employee communications that are early, often and effective.