Published by Mike Dahlinger on July 2nd, 2019

Imagine you are selecting a car to race. Your options are a brand new, top-of-the-line Formula 1 racecar and a beat up old station wagon with wood paneling. Most likely, you’re getting behind the wheel of the racecar, right? Well, let’s add this twist; what if the old station wagon has a full tank of gas and there isn’t a drop of fuel in the F1 racecar. Suddenly, the old station wagon doesn’t look like such a bad choice.

So, what does this have to do with employee benefits? Everything. I see employers who invest countless hours and dollars into developing an incredible benefits program; they’re operating with the Formula 1 racecar of benefits. But, then, I see that they haven’t invested in effective communication tools to fuel their program. It’s a shame to see employers like this frustrated with the results of the programs they have worked so diligently to create.

It’s not uncommon that the quality of communication is actually more important than the benefits themselves. One study found that a “rich” benefits program paired with ineffective communication lead to 26 percent of employees being satisfied with their benefits. On the other hand, a less rich benefit offering satisfied 76 percent of the employee population when it was paired with effective communication.1

This begs the question of how to communicate effectively; how to give a benefits program the fuel it needs. Fortunately, Trustmark has done research which we boiled down into three key steps for successful employee benefits communication:

Build your messaging around emotion - The most commonly cited reasons for enrolling in benefits are emotional ones.2 If you can tailor communication to employees with the goal of connecting on an emotional level, you’ll get a lot farther than trying to provide stats and nuanced product details to win them over. Remember, most employees probably aren’t that familiar with the products you offer; most of all, they just want to feel secure.

Switch up the format of communications – Not everyone takes in information in the same way, so it’s important to vary the formatting of messaging. For some, emails may work best, for others, they may need printed materials. Employee engagement, satisfaction, and voluntary product take-up rates are all higher among employees who receive at least 3 different types of benefits communication.2

You need a personal component – We can create all the communication in the world, but there still isn’t really anything that can compete with a direct conversation. Our study found that 72% of employees who receive face-to-face communication express satisfaction with their employer’s benefits program.2 Of any communication method we tested, this proved the most successful.

You can’t just build a strong benefits program and expect it to succeed. You need to provide the communication to inform employees about their benefits, drive them to enrollment and provide resources for enrollment support. At Trustmark, we’ve made this a cornerstone of how we provide benefit solutions. Whether it’s the Rolls Royce of benefits program or something a little more economical, make sure you structure a communication program to fuel the results employers want. 

1 Effective Employee Drive Financial Results. Watson Wyatt.
2 Trustmark and Customer Benefit Analytics, “Who Buys Voluntary and Why: 2017 Enrollment Study.”