How benefits information is conveyed is as important as what is communicated. The Hartford’s Future of Benefits study finds that 42% of U.S. workers believe their company needs better resources to help them understand their benefits – and 58% of employers agree they need better resources to help employees understand their benefits.
As today’s workforce becomes increasingly diverse, however, employers and brokers face the challenge of delivering benefits information to multiple generations of employees with various learning styles and different technology preferences.
“Employees lean on the technology they are most comfortable with, whether that’s email, video, text messages or calculator tools,” says Matt Brown, director of consumer marketing for Group Benefits at The Hartford. “As an industry, we need to do more to ensure employees have access to the information they need to better understand the value of their benefits.”
When considering which communication approaches work best, employers and brokers must consider how employees interact with various technologies, how cultural or generational differences may affect the message and which methods best convey critical information about benefits.
Prioritize accessibility across communications
Meeting employees’ diverse needs starts with thinking about how, when and where benefits are presented. Besides generational needs, employers and brokers must consider job types, language and cultural backgrounds and decision-making styles when designing communication strategies.
Companies often have a wide range of jobs with significantly different access to communication channels. Employees working in a manufacturing facility, for example, may not have consistent or convenient access to the company intranet, email or mobile app.
Supplementing these types of communications with printed materials and meetings makes the messages more accessible. Conversely, many technology-forward workers use their smartphones often, making mobile and text options a highly effective option.
Many employees may speak different languages or have visual or hearing impairments. To help boost their comprehension, Brown emphasizes the importance of thinking about how materials will be understood after translation and making sure subtitles are added to videos.
Various decision-making styles should also factor into communication strategies. For example, many employees seek guidance about their benefits decisions from their family or friends. This requires that resources should be accessible outside the workplace.
Connect the dots to drive understanding
Across generations and job types, employees adopt various learning styles. As a result, benefits education can’t be one-size-fits-all. Aligning communication options with employee preferences helps make the connection between benefits and the employee’s individual needs.
Just as important as finding the optimal delivery method to reach all employees, explaining the benefits in simple, everyday language helps describe the benefits in ways they can relate to and understand.
“Many employees don’t understand why they need coverage,” Brown says. “For example, our research shows more than half of Gen Z workers think hospital indemnity insurance is meant for someone else. Grouping such supplemental health benefits together and connecting them to medical insurance choices can help employees better understand how these types of supplemental insurance plans will pay them directly with cash benefits to help fill gaps in medical insurance out of pocket costs after an illness or accident.”
Along with a range of communication channels that take learning styles into account, describing how the coverages work in real-life scenarios is also crucial. To help employees connect benefits to everyday life, Brown recommends that employers leverage resources provided by their carriers and benefit enrollment platforms, including decision-support tools and cost calculators.
For employers and brokers, effective communication about benefits is critical. By adjusting that message to meet the needs of employees and effectively using technology and messaging platforms, organizations can better support their workforce.
Ann Clifford is a freelance writer who translates her background in financial services marketing into specialized content focused on employee benefits and small business topics.
The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., (NYSE: HIG) operates through its subsidiaries, including underwriting companies Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company and Hartford Fire Insurance Company, under the brand name, The Hartford®, and is headquartered at One Hartford Plaza, Hartford, CT 06155. For additional details, please read The Hartford’s legal notice at www.TheHartford.com. © 2023 The Hartford. For additional information on this topic, check out .