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Employees who are extremely satisfied with their benefits program are nine times more likely to stay with their employer than workers who are dissatisfied with their benefits program. If you’re thinking, “Our company can’t afford to offer more benefits,” you aren’t alone. However, it’s not always about offering more; rather, it’s about improving the employees’ understanding and perception of the benefits they are already offered.

In a 2014 survey by the National Business Coalition on Health, 56 percent of the HR/benefits professionals said they spent most of their time working to improve employees understanding and perceived value of benefits. However, of the same HR/benefits professionals surveyed, 64 percent said they communicate with employees about benefits once a year during annual enrollment.

“ You need to look at a communications strategy in which spring showers, May flowers, record high temperatures and snowfall all mean benefit updates are being sent to employees. ”

If your company is in the majority, where the fall season is a sign that benefit news needs to be communicated to employees, you may want to rethink your strategy. You need to look at a communications strategy in which spring showers, May flowers, record high temperatures and snowfall all mean benefit updates are being sent to employees.  Yes, you read that right; we are talking about a year-round benefits communications strategy.

In order to create a year-round strategy, you must first look at your company’s short and long-term goals, the employee population demographics and the knowledge gaps employees have regarding benefits. The following are topics many employers want to focus on today. Any and all of these topics can be shared in the form of fliers, posters, text notifications, infographics, interactive videos, etc. Your imagination is the limit

General Benefits Education

  • General insurance terms and definitions
  • What is a drug formulary?
  • In-network versus out-of-network
  • Embedded versus non-embedded (deductible, out-of-pocket maximum or both!)
  • What is balance billing?

Lowering Healthcare Costs (Hint: Avoid using the term consumerism. “Consumerism” doesn’t usually resonate with employees, but they know what it means to save money!)

  • Emergency room versus urgent care (versus Walgreens/CVC clinics, Nurseline, telemedicine … you get the idea)
  • Generic versus brand named
  • What is a mail order pharmacy, and how can I benefit from using one?
  • Benefits of being tobacco free
  • How to prevent diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, musculoskeletal disorders and stress/depression

HSA Education

  • What is a health savings account (HAS)?
  • What are the benefits of an HSA?
  • How do I open an HSA?
  • I’ve opened my HAS; do do I use it?
  • Employer seeding (if applicable)

Financial Wellness

  • What a budget is and monthly budgeting form
  • How to eliminate debt
  • Tips on saving money
  • How to protect your assets
  • Company retirement program and matching (if applicable)

Voluntary Benefits

  • Life insurance: how much can I elect? How much can I elect without answering medical questions or taking a medical exam?
  • Why you need critical illness coverage (and why medical insurance isn’t enough!)

You may decide to focus on one topic a month/quarter or pick several topics to focus on throughout the year. If you aren’t sure where to begin, start with collecting employee feedback. Find out their preferred method of communication, how often they would like to receive benefit communications, and identify where their knowledge gaps exist. Of the companies communicating year-round, 93 percent achieved their benefit goals (says the National Business Coalition on Health), and you can too! Start planning your year-round communication strategy today!