top of page
  • Writer's pictureCindy McGrath

3 reasons why now is the time to ramp up your employee benefits communications

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

It's a challenging time to attract and retain employees. Healthcare benefit costs continue to skyrocket. Many employees aren't aware of or taking advantage of resources they could use. HR leaders are juggling competing demands.

If your organization is looking to stand out to current and potential employees, increasing the frequency of your internal communications is an effective strategy. Ongoing employee communications can help ensure that staff understands and values your organization's benefits. You'll improve your employees' experience, reduce company costs, and attract new talent.

Here's some inspiration for why, what, and how to ramp up your internal communications:

1) Right the ship: attract new employees and stem the flow of resignations

Ship helm
Timely and effective employee communications go a long way to improving an organization's culture

We're now in the middle of a "Great Resignation" --- employees are leaving their jobs in record numbers. While unemployment has remained mostly unchanged, the number of job leavers has increased, according to a January 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report.

Employee benefits are an increasingly important strategy for retaining employees. Boosting your employee communications can help attract new employees as well as stem the flow of resignations. We recommend the following three content strategies:

a) Use a transparent approach to communicate your company's vision and address concerns

Addressing the reasons why employees are resigning is crucial. How is your organization supporting its employees, improving its culture, and moving forward with its mission? When you have answers, communicate them to employees. You'll want to address each of the following concerns in your communications strategy.

The top reasons employees are quitting in record numbers, according to a recent MIT study:

  • Toxic corporate culture

  • Job insecurity and reorganization

  • High levels of innovation (attributable to longer hours, working at a faster pace, and enduring more stress)

  • Failure to recognize employee performance

b) Increase awareness of your total rewards package

Just as you do with salary compensation, make sure current and new employees are aware of their benefits package:

Benefits Package Examples

"Find a way to calculate the total dollar amount offered for all the benefits, vacation time, bonuses, etc. that you pay for," said Alexa Baggio, Founder, and CEO of PERKS in a New England Employee Benefits Council blog. "Share the high-level value in your job postings at the beginning of the process and make sure you attach a Total Reward breakdown with your offer letters at the end of the process, so as candidates compare you with others, they know the full picture."

c) Support internal mobility and keep former employees in the loop

Be sure your employees – and skilled former employees - are aware of new job opportunities and reach out to them when appropriate openings become available.

A recent study by Lever, a talent acquisition software platform, found that a new focus on internal mobility for employees could make a difference in attracting and retaining employees. The report found that many employees have taken advantage of skill training. These offerings motivate approximately 10% of workers to stay at their companies. Sixty-one percent of employees have taken courses to grow in their current role, and 23% have taken classes to transition to a new position.

Boomerang employees are also an often-untapped asset. If you have previous employees who were a good fit, reach out to them. The Lever study found that more than half (52%) of employees would consider returning to a former employer for better benefits (29%), growth opportunities (22%), and advanced training (16%).

2) Improve use and navigation of under-utilized and helpful benefits

Compass - helping employees navigate their benefits
Identify difficult-to-use benefits and help employees understand how they work

Your data can uncover opportunities to promote benefits that aren't widely known or used. Many of these are critical for your employees' health and well-being. Improving awareness of these programs will enhance your company's employee experience:

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

  • Retirement contributions and employer match programs

  • Discount programs

  • Pre-tax benefits - Health Savings Account (HSA), Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

  • Telehealth benefits

  • Wellness and financial help resources

  • Medical and prescription drug shopping tools to reduce out-of-pocket spending

  • Ancillary insurance programs, such as life insurance, disability, vision, and Long-Term Care

  • Prescription drug savings opportunities – home delivery; preferred pharmacy; specialty medication coupon programs; and mobile apps

When communicating these programs, highlight why these programs are helpful. Include:

  • Program features and benefits

  • How to access

  • What actions to take to ensure quick access when needed

  • Qualifying events that enable changes and enrollment, if applicable

3) Cut employee benefit costs and free up resources for critical needs

Cut costs
Free up resources for pay increases and other critical company needs

Employee benefits represent on average 30.9% of total compensation costs (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). An effective internal communications strategy can help your organization cut these costs by steering employees to valuable resources, quality care, and cost-effective choices.

Consider the following tactics:

a) Overcome open enrollment inertia

Although you may have a robust open enrollment communications campaign, you're missing a valuable opportunity if you don't communicate year-round. Employees become overwhelmed with information at annual enrollment time and frequently make no changes, potentially increasing out-of-pocket and company costs.

Start with the basics off-cycle so messages don’t get lost. Help employees become familiar with healthcare terms so they will better understand their options. Educate employees on money-saving features. Employees and companies save money when health and prescription drug cost-control programs are fully understood.

Consider holding an active open enrollment that forces employees to review their benefits options each year before making selections. Active enrollment can make employees wiser healthcare consumers, improve proactive healthcare, and lower overall health expenditures.

Promote other health coverage options. Encourage employees to evaluate whether their spouse's health insurance is a better option. You may consider offering a buy-out incentive for employees choosing to move to their spouse's plan.

b) Focus on employees' mental health needs

The pandemic has led to historically high rates of anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, and other behavioral health disruptions. There's an opportunity for employers to refine their behavioral health approach. Managing behavioral health improves employees' health and well-being while boosting morale and retention. Be sure to communicate all the resources available, how they can help, and how to access them:

  • Employee Assistance Program

  • Telehealth options

  • Online resources

  • Care coordination options

  • On-site programs

c) Pay attention to how you describe new initiatives

Your organization may be implementing new healthcare cost-control initiatives, such as reference-based pricing, Centers of Excellence, provider steerage, or limited network plans. Is your messaging positive? "Narrow and excellent is not a bad choice for people," said Wayne Jenkins, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Centivo referring to narrow networks on a 2022 Relentless Health Value podcast. "Being able to alleviate (healthcare affordability for employees) is not only good for a business that's purchasing this, but they also have a healthier group of people working for them with less stress."

d) Help employees navigate their benefits

The go-to strategy of moving employees to high-deductible health plans has inadvertently created adverse financial and health consequences. The Mass Health Policy Commission reports that 46% of the state's adults skipped needed healthcare in 2019 due to unaffordable out-of-pocket costs. The numbers were especially alarming for low-income and people of color, but even high-income people were not immune.

If your company offers high-deductible health plans, helping employees reduce out-of-pocket costs will go a long way in improving comfort level and satisfaction, according to an EBRI/Greenwald Research Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey. Educating employees on the accompanying HSA or HRA benefits will improve the uptake and use of these benefits.

e) Steer employees to high-quality, high-value providers

Help employees choose the best options for quality care at reasonable costs. Let them know how to find out details online, by phone, and by the app before it's urgent:

  • In-network benefits

  • Specialty pharmacy and specialty drug site of care administration

  • Appropriate services for telehealth and retail clinics

  • Appropriate services for urgent care facilities

  • Provider tiering

  • Centers of excellence

  • Reference-based pricing

  • Prescription drug copays

  • Step therapy and prescription drug management programs

Bottom line – You'll elevate your current and potential employees' experience with your organization when you provide timely, frequent, and helpful internal communications.

Cynthia McGrath helps businesses connect with their employees and customers through strategic marketing communications.


bottom of page