The Tools We Use: What’s in Your Toolbox?

If you called the cable guy and he showed up with the tool belt and all the gadgets, but didn’t have any idea how to effectively use them to fix your cable problems, then when he leaves you are going to have the same problem you had when you started.

Employee Communication tools can be much like this scenario.  Incorporating technology can help the effectiveness of your employee communication or simply be a big drain on the budget if not implemented properly.  A strategy for these tools and technology needs to be outlined as a part of your overall benefit plan to ensure adoption and comprehension of the tools being offered.

Whether you are in need of benefit administration, benefit call center, benefit communication guide or an online benefit portal, we will take the time to assess those needs and incorporate a strategy to ensure success!

Here’s just one example of a way we can help you communicate:

 

Want to see what this would look like specifically for you company?  Request a Customized Employee Communication Package today!

 


Employee Benefits Provide Better ROI than Cash!

Many company administrators would laugh at the idea that they could actually be gaining a return on investment from their benefit strategies.  However, time and time again we are able to show that not only is a return on your investment possible, but it should be expected!

Remember that a dollar on a paycheck is worth a dollar to the employee and it costs you a dollar, but benefits aren’t like that.  Employee benefits can be worth 10x their cash equivalent.  It’s like getting a huge discount on employee pay.

In the meantime, let’s take a peek at a study done by American Express showing what benefits many employees found the most value in when assessing their total compensation (they also note in the article that most of these creative offers would be tax deductible, but warn to double check with your tax attorney):

-          100% employer-provided benefits – This is growing trend primarily within tech oriented companies currently who are fight to attract and retain top talent.  Many companies are using this carrot on a stick to lure them in!  Not all companies can pull this off, but those doing so coupled with effective communication are seeing the positive reward of their efforts on their bottom line.

-          Give lots of paid time off – Sure you are paying for the time the employee is not actively working, but the benefits are worth much more than the cost to you.  Employees are more productive in weeks leading up to and following a vacation; projects will get finished, work quality will soar and effectiveness in their job will increase.  Employee morale is boosted creating a more productive workforce year ‘round.  Also you can use this to recruit. Just providing a week or two more than your competitor will give you the edge to lock in on that top talent.

-          Feed them - An apple costs a quarter. A hungry and irritable employee costs hundreds. A cup of coffee costs a dime. The caffeine boost is what actually gets some work done today. You get the idea.

And much, much more!  There is a plethora of resources and tools available to employers today, many of which most employers do not know exist, that can be used to accomplish your benefit strategy goals effectively.  Let’s schedule a time to discuss your current benefit strategy and assess where you would like to be in the future!

 


Uncle Sam says…..Communication is Key

You've likely been focusing mostly on the plan design and administration requirements of health care reform. But, the law has a series of new notification and communication requirements that start this year and extend over the next several years.

You’ll need to be thinking not only about the strategic communication needs—how to keep employees engaged in their health and managing costs—but also how to meet these legal requirements in a way that adds the most value.  (And, creates the least amount of additional work for you and your team.)

Much is still in flux about the changes in health care, but this article captures the key notification requirements and what to look for as regulations are issued.

What does healthcare reform have in store for how we communicate with our employees in 2012?

  • Summary of material changes (2012)
  • Summary of medical coverage (2012)
  • Description of all disease management programs (2012)
  • Automatic medical enrollment and opt-out actions (TBD—likely 2013)
  • Notification of exchanges and “free choice vouchers” (2013)
  • Description of claims process (TBD)

 

Be sure to bookmark our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more details on these and other changes/updates on healthcare reform, as well as other daily updated industry relevant news.

 


Benefit Strategy vs. Benefit Policy

All too often we find employers that allow their benefit policy dictate their benefit strategy.  It may seem obvious, but this definition can often result in that “Aha!” moment as you make the journey towards creating a benefit program that will bring a return on your investment.

Policy def:  A proposed or adopted course or principle of action.

Strategy def:  the art of planning and directing overall operations to achieve a major or overall aim.

Developing a sound benefit strategy can be the difference in realize a return on your benefit investment as a corporation or simply viewing the cost of company benefits as a necessary evil.  However, as noted in the definition, development of a strategy is a true art form.

As with any other art, the artist usually requires years of experience to develop their technique.  There is a unique quality, a passion and a drive behind what they do.  Artists normally create for the benefit of others.  Most art is intended to be viewed and interacted with in one way or another.  Finally, art is designed to entice an action or emotion.

We talk about policy when we are defining known principles of our strategies that work.  Policies are our standards, our rules of thumb and serve to keep us on track and focused.  Strategies are intended to be explored, research and create a flexible roadmap accounting for past, present and future.

Most employers have only ever been introduced to Benefit Policy.  Benefit strategies take more time and dedication to research the best avenues for the client on behalf of the Benefit Advisor.  However, for every moment spent evaluating a well thought out benefit strategy is value created for your benefit policy.

Get started developing your benefit Strategy  today and enlighten your employee population!


How is Communication related to Retention?

A recent study was done showing that more than 40% of employees do not comprehend their benefit plans.  With this trend, another trend has emerged.  Another survey shows that job seekers put the company benefit plan and workplace culture above annual pay on the things they are looking for most in a new employer.  Let’ take a look at some published standards:

The Eight Elements of a High Retention Organization

  1. Clear sense of direction and purpose
  2. Caring management
  3. Flexible benefits and schedule adapted to the needs of the individual
  4. Open Communication
  5. A Charged Work Environment
  6. Performance management
  7. Recognition and Reward
  8. Training & Development

The items in blue incorporate some aspect of employee communication to be successfully implemented.  Therefore, just through this simple example we can show that improving the quality of your employee communication plan as a part of your overall employee benefit strategy is a necessity and directly impacts your retention rates 100% of the time!

Outside of some of the more obvious communication strategies that we may advise be incorporated into your benefit strategy, here are some fun examples of some creative retention strategies:

• Employee recognition and award programs.

• Job switch days (mentoring or shadowing).

• Job sharing.

• Telecommuting.

• 360 degree feedback.

• Exit interviews (see examples).

• Surprise “spot” recognition for a job well done.

• Employee sport teams.

• Include family members in agency functions.

• On-site massages (Wellness Expo).

• Open communications—Newsletters, intranet, social collaboration

• Flexible schedules.

• Employee Assistant Programs (counseling for everything from drug and alcohol problems to

finances).

• Onsite amenities (dry cleaning services, day care)

 

Need help devising a strategy to effectively communicate your benefit plan to attract and retain quality personnel?  Contact us today for an evaluation!

 


Creating Value through Employee Communication

Value….is a heavy-hitting word in and outside of the workplace, but one that is often skipped over.  Depending on the person, the word value can construe feelings of loyalty or feelings of cheapness or inaccessibility.  The trick with your Employee Communication strategy is to not only create value, but to ensure that the value is perceived in a way that will benefit your company and its employees.

Here are some tips for creating Value through Employee Communication:

  • Communicate what your benefit programs include:  How can an employee think your benefit plan is valuable if they do not understand what it includes or how to access it.  The old adage, “I have been paying for benefits for years, but never find out they were worth it until I get the emergency room bill.”  If employees have a better understanding of not only what their benefits plan includes, but also how those benefits can be effectively applied in their daily lives to assist them with their health, finances, etc then the employee will be more likely to utilize those benefits.
  • Provide “real-life” definition for all the “benefits lingo”:  If a doctor walked into your room and just rattled off your blood test results as they are presented on the sheet from the lab, you would be overwhelmed and confused.  You wouldn’t feel comfortable using that information anywhere else for other purposes, because you did not understand it.  Employees view their benefits similarly.  Most benefits communication on the how they work and what the terminology means is way over the head of even many of the most intelligent employees.  Find fun and simple ways to drive home the glossary of benefit terminology, and you will see your adoption rates and value perception increase!
  • Involve employees in the communications process:  Find ways to use the communications tools available in your company, along with the talent and enthusiasm of your people, to allow free flow of benefits communication.
  • Hold your employees accountable for communicated information.  Far too many organizations allow their employees to depend on the organization for feeding them information, instead of providing opportunities to get informed and educated.  Deliver positive rewards and accountability standards to encourage your employees to become educated and involved in their benefit programs.
  • Provide an Opportunity for Feedback:  Employees will most always readily communicate their opinions on successful or failed company strategies when those communication doors are open.  Provide a consistent opportunity for employees to provide feedback on their benefit programs.  Encourage candid opinions and show that their opinions are heard, by communicating summaries and strategies related to that feedback regularly.

Contact us today to understand more about developing a winning combination of benefit strategy and strong employee communication.  Capitalize on our expertise!  We can provide you with an evaluation of your existing strategies with no strings attached.

 


The Evolution of Employee Communication

Employee Communication has definitely been a hot topic in the industry lately.  Questions such as:

  • How can we communicate better with our employees?
  • Where do we find resources for developing a quality, cost effective employee communication strategy?
  • How can we ensure that these new efforts in communicating our company benefits to our employees will have the greatest impact on perceived value and benefit plan ROI?
  • What stipulations does healthcare reform put on employee communication and are we in compliance?
  • What tools are available to me as an administrator to make the communication process a simple one?
  • How can we be sure that even we communicate that our communication is understood?

Although, these along with other questions may round out the some of the more frequently asked communication questions, have you set out your Top 5 Benefits Resolutions for 2012?

With the plethora of other heathcare reform measures, compliance changes and renewal increases you may be dealing with, it can be easy for benefits coordinators and HR Administrators to feel as if benefits are a necessary evil and not a part of a package that could be tagged with bringing any significant value or savings to the company bottom line.  Benefit strategies are becoming more complex, with more companies anticipated to incorporate Wellness Programs and Voluntary Benefit programs in 2012 than ever before.

So where do you begin?  Do you have a Benefit Advisor that can take an unbiased hard look at your benefit strategies of the past and present, while listening to where you want to go in the future?  Have you created your Benefit Roadmap for 2012 and into the future?  Have you set goals to establish your expected return on investment from your company benefit program?

In this series of emails, we hope to answer some of these questions for you, simply and effectively.   Feel free to contact us directly at any time if you have any questions relating to any of the content or topics outlined in this email series.  We are at your service.