Communications and branding leader, Mercer Marsh Benefits™
Marla is a principal within the Asia health consulting team based in Singapore, and is the regional communications and branding leader for Mercer Marsh Benefits. She works with her clients to customise communications and branding programmes that enhance the employee experience of total rewards offerings.
The constant advancements in technology open up a wide variety of new choices for people, helping us build our own digital world. We can now do our weekly shopping in fully automated grocery stores that rely on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves, and what they put back. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has personalized our homes by allowing devices to “talk” to each other. An example of this is a smart fridge with a built-in camera that displays the contents of the fridge on smartphones, which is another way technology makes shopping for groceries more convenient.
Businesses know that employees enjoy and make full use of computers and smartphones outside of work, so with change happening all around us, why is the way we communicate benefits not changing?
This is a topic I discussed at the recent 2018 Employee Benefits event in Singapore, and I’ll go into further detail about it here.
Today, employees want new ways of working and an experience that offers just–in-time, intuitive digital access, personalization, and wellness. But that isn’t easy. HR departments are under increasing pressure to not only design cost effective and attractive benefit programs, but also to deliver them in ways that demonstrate they truly care.
Fifty-three percent of employers communicate with their employees once a year about benefits. And the once a year communication is typically carried out in two standard ways: in person at the renewal session or by giving employees a handbook.1 Increasing the frequency of communication is one of the quickest ways for employers to boost employee engagement and appreciation of their benefits, and it’s worthwhile as employees who feel their needs are being met are 2x more likely to advocate.
What’s the best way to do this? For employers, making the experience digital is the future. However, this does not mean changes need to be made to the benefits design, there are many ways to enhance communication methods.
Four tips to make your benefit communication more like a consumer experience:
1. On brand: The names of brands are everywhere–on billboards, television, in shops, etc. showing that commodities and how we perceive them play a pivotal role in our lives. Therefore, branding your digital experience plays an important role in ensuring employees recognize the importance of benefits and it also helps to boost awareness.
2. Interactive: The days of encyclopedia-sized employee handbooks filled with pages of extensive benefit entitlements written in insurance jargon are a thing of a past. However, a more user-friendly employee handbook is still relevant, and employers are now advised to create responsive materials that function like an app or website instead of static ones, to help employees communicate effectively.
3. Personalized: Our research shows that by adding a personal touch to employees’ benefits information helps to develop an individual journey. An example of this is using personalized videos with individual names embedded in the clip to show employees their statements. This approach increases action, trust and appreciation among staff.
4. Social: Everyone (pretty much) is on one social media platform or another and employers need to take advantage of this by leveraging what their employees are saying on these channels. Sharing positive stories from employees about their benefits or their enjoyment working for the company is a fantastic way to attract talent and boost morale. It also reinforces your standing as a company.
Utilizing these four tips will help increase awareness of benefits, explain what employees get out of their benefits, help employees understand which plan is right for them, and, finally, the employees will share their experiences and speak positively about it.
1 2017 Benefits Under The Lens Survey by Mercer Marsh Benefits