Original article from http://www.businessinsurance.com

Benefit management experts’ recommendations for improving employee benefit communications

DO

• Make it relevant: “Instead of one version of the information that contains everything an employee could ever want to know, regardless of their situation, why not create multiple versions of that information tailored to the specifics of your business units or demographic groups,” said Ruth Hunt, a Minneapolis-based principal at Buck Consultants L.L.C.

• Scale down, if necessary: Where larger employers may roll out robust Web platforms loaded with plan information and decision-support tools, smaller employers could distill their content down to a few pages of key information alongside a blog or online newsletter. “It doesn’t have to be flashy,” said Jennifer Benz, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Benz Communications. “People want really simple, actionable information, and that’s certainly within the realm of what most small and midsize employers can support.”

DON’T

• Flood them with jargon: “Keep things simple, and in as plain a language as possible,” Ms. Benz said. “Benefit managers usually assume a much higher level of understanding among employees in terms of how health care works. Additionally, your corporate counsel is going to want to be very cautious and make doubly sure that the communications are legally compliant, even at the expense of basic understandability.”

• Wait for annual enrollment: “One of the biggest missteps we see, especially among mid-market employers, is treating annual enrollment like it’s the Super Bowl,” said Joann Hall Swenson, health engagement best practice leader at Aon Hewitt in Minneapolis. “It might be compliant with the law and it might get people enrolled in your benefit plan, but it’s not going to drive any of your employees to get healthier. Instead, what if you spread some of that money and effort over the course of the full year, and focus your communications on actually helping people use the benefit plans?”

• Tell them what they already know: “What we’ve found is that consumers already know what to do to be healthier,” Ms. Swenson said. “About 90% of employees can recite to you that they should eat right, exercise, not smoke, etc.”