Recently, we had the distinct pleasure of hanging out with 45 ALEX customers at our annual ALEXCon, the best employee communication conference on the planet.

Over the course of two days, we and our customer guests talked shop over benefits-themed cocktails, laughed till our sides hurt during an inspired improv show, and-most importantly-picked up a boatload of great, practical advice about benefits and wellness communication.

I’ve run the numbers, and there are officially TOO MANY tidbits to share in a single blog post. But here are our Top 6:

1.) “The smaller the reward, the greater the reaction.”
– Andrew Sykes, Health at Work

When it comes to motivating employees to make difficult wellness-related changes, too often we dangle carrots (in the form of cash incentives, free swag, etc.) in front of employees, and expect them to buy into our programming.

However, as Sykes pointed out, extrinsic motivators (like cash money) often detract from more intrinsic motivators (say, wanting to do the right thing).

2.) “Find the loudest person, and then find his or her friend. That is who you want to be your cheerleader.”
– Andrea Metcalf

So why is the behavior of the friend of an initiative’s loudest supporter more influential than the behavior of that supporter herself? Well, because unlike her megaphone-wielding pal, the friend doesn’t appear to have a horse in the race. She seems unbiased, and representative of the group at large.

As a result, when the friend decides to get on board, it seems genuine-and helps convince all the doubters and fence-sitters that the initiative might actually be worth their while.

3.) “Always put yourself in your audience’s shoes and answer the question “What’s in it for me?”
– Bob Armour, Jellyvision

Don’t just remind your employees to select their benefits during open enrollment. Remind them – very clearly – why they should care about doing it.

  • What will they gain by taking the action you want?
  • What pain or annoyance will they avoid?
  • Will taking a certain action pad their wallet in some way?

Let them know-in your posters, your emails, your brochures…and everything else.

4.) “Adding ‘you’ to the phrasing of your communications will increase conversion rate.”
– Josh Braun, Jellyvision

“You” truly is a powerful word. When we see it on the page, we think: “hey, they’re talking to me!” And we perk up.

So instead of talking about your employees in the third person, address them directly. For example, instead of writing “All employees without dependents need to fill out this form,” write “If you don’t have any dependents, you need to fill out this form.”

5.) “Never, ever underestimate the power of a postcard.”
– Kim Kapfer, Dick’s Sporting Goods

Yep! Sometimes it’s nice to go back to basics and send your employees a piece of snail mail. Not only can it get the attention of your employees more effectively than yet another HR email, it can get the attention of your employees’ significant others, who might actually make the health care decisions in their household.

Important tips regarding postcards? Make the company logo big so the postcard stands out from the crowd of junk mail it’ll appear with-and make the call to action crystal clear.

6.) “Employee inaction does not mean disinterest.”
– Steve Wendel, Morningstar

Employees freeze up when it comes to making benefits choices not because they don’t care. They freeze up because they’re confused – and in need of help.

This is why figuring out the best ways to communicate to your workforce is time well spent. For example, by sending out two versions of the same email (an A and B version) a benefits team can determine which subject lines lead to more opened emails-and which layouts lead to more clicks on the call to action.

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