One of the central functions of HR is to help employees make smart, fully-informed decisions about their benefits enrollment, and then to actually make good use of those benefits as needed. There are a number of tools that can assist you in this goal, starting with a benefits guide.
In recent years, the benefits guide has fallen out of fashion. Many HR professionals question the need for a textbook-style approach to benefits education. We 100 percent agree that HR can and should do more to inform employees about their benefits options, and to drive benefits engagement.
With that said, having a benefits guide that you can provide to employees remains helpful, as it ensures that all the relevant information is available in one centralized resource. The question is, how can HR design a benefits guide that employees actually want to use?
Tips for Creating a Better Benefits Guide
We have a few suggestions:
- Put it online. First things first: There’s no reason why you should still be using reams of paper to print physical copies of your benefits guide. This is impractical and expensive. Instead, digitize it. We recommend either a PDF or a landing page. Make sure the benefits guide is available somewhere employees can easily access it.
- Stick the important stuff first. Structure your benefits guide with an “inverted pyramid” style, wherein the most significant information is presented first. This usually means information about the major benefits, like health and dental insurance. Another smart idea: Include a “what’s changed” or “what’s new this year” section at the beginning of your benefits guide.
- Repeat yourself when necessary. There are certain details, such as open enrollment dates, that you’ll want to repeat over and over again throughout the guide, ensuring total clarity. Don’t hesitate to say the same thing more than once if you want to make sure it gets through to your employees.
- Format for readability. If you want employees to use the benefits guide, you’ll need to format it in a way that lends itself to reading. For example, we would recommend placing just one big, central idea on each page. Don’t feel the need to cram as much info as possible onto each page, as if it really were a textbook.
- Provide cost transparency. When discussing particular benefits options, always show the math. Allow employees to see where the financial trade-offs are with regard to things like premiums, deductibles, and out of pocket maximums. This information is typically quite helpful to employees looking to make an informed decision.
- Personalize it. While you can’t address every single employee’s specific situation, you can use your benefits guide to highlight common scenarios. For example, you might provide some guidance as to which plans are best-suited for young, healthy, single people, as opposed to plans that make more sense for larger families or for older employees.
Learn More About Engaging Employees with Their Benefits
For HR, engaging employees with their benefits is mission-critical. A well-designed benefits guide can help a great deal. To learn more about benefits strategy, reach out to the team at WhiteWater Consulting at your convenience.