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Benefits communication should occur year-round, survey suggests

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Employee communication can be a headache for HR – even just getting employees to open your emails can sometimes feel like a struggle. But when it comes to benefits, a lack of effective communication can lead to confusion and stress when open enrollment comes around.

Ensuring employees have the right information to make an informed decision is vital. But communicating about benefits only during open enrollment season may not be enough, as a new study from LegalShield found that benefits communication isn’t cutting it for many employees who are left feeling uninformed and unprepared come open enrollment season.

Employees left in the dark

The study found that a majority of employees (81%) would welcome more information about their company-sponsored benefits throughout the year. This signals a clear desire for employees to gain information year-round, but about half of employees (47%) also reported feeling unprepared during open enrollment season and didn’t know enough about their benefits to make informed decisions, showing a need for more effective benefits communication.

Poor benefits communication – or an insufficient amount leading up to open enrollment – can lead to employees making uninformed decisions. In fact, more than half (52%) of participants reported that they did not receive sufficient information during open enrollment.

There are clear benefits to equipping employees with the knowledge they need to make informed enrollment decisions. Employees making better use of their benefits may lead to:

5 tips to improve year-round benefits communication

To ensure that employees are fully prepared when open enrollment season comes around, consider trying using these five ways to improve benefits communication from David MacLean, Vice President of Strategic Growth at LegalShield.

  1. Use the full year to periodically educate employees about how certain voluntary benefits can address prominent issues of the moment. For example, a legal plan can provide expert guidance to an employee regarding their obligations for student loan repayment.
  2. Use the weeks immediately preceding the open enrollment window to educate employees on voluntary benefits. Product vendors can typically support this with informational websites, online brochures, decision-assist tools and on-demand videos.
  3. Offer interactive video (or live) seminars hosted by product vendors to overview the plans they offer and most importantly to answer employee questions. This increases employee engagement and understanding. The weeks preceding the open enrollment window is an excellent time for this.
  4. Use multiple delivery methods and content formats to reach employees with different learning styles and work environments, such as a benefits administration system, text, video, employee seminars, online calculators, intranet, instant messaging, email and hard copy brochures when appropriate.
  5. Share information about the generational and geographic makeup of your workforce with your vendor partners to enable communication strategies that fit the needs of those segments.

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