Niagara has a multi-generational workforce, many of whom work out in the field and don’t spend time at the office. Plus, with a predominantly male workforce, many benefits decision-makers — employees’ spouses — are at home and harder to reach.
The Niagara team knew that they needed a benefits communications strategy that would overcome barriers to access these different populations, and also keep them engaged for long enough to fully understand and use their benefits.
Niagara realized that a one-size-fits-all approach wouldn’t work for its team members. So, their HR team partnered with Jellyvision to come up with a multi-touch campaign to reach employees where they are. They mail newsletters and postcards to employees’ homes, position table tents in their facilities, host (and record) live meetings, send emails, and broadcast messages via Niagara radio in their restrooms and café. They also have ALEX standees with tear-off sheets and t-shirts located around their offices.
According to Kristi Morrissey, Niagara’s Senior Manager, Benefits & Wellness, the company wasn’t afraid to think outside the box. For example, when Niagara couldn’t host in-person meetings because of the pandemic, they needed to find new ways to drive people to their benefits tools. So, Niagara partnered with Jellyvision to come up with new ways to reach employees, including an ALEX scavenger hunt on the company’s benefits microsite.
But they still had a hard time reaching employees who weren’t in front of a computer all day. For manufacturing front-line workers and supervisors, who rarely checked their email, the company needed a different strategy. That’s why Kristi’s team turned to text messaging.
Niagara knew a blanket message wouldn’t be effective. So, they narrowed their audience to team members who needed to take action. They sent their first simple, action-oriented message on the second day of open enrollment to drive people to engage with ALEX. They sent a second message on the last day of open enrollment as a reminder to those who hadn’t yet signed up for benefits.
“We offer 23+ benefit plans. So, how do we get our teams to engage, and then once we have them, how do we get them to understand? So, it's not just ‘I’m awake and I’m paying attention,’ but truly understanding their benefits. We have to remember that one size does not fit all. We have to leverage lots of channels. We have to meet people where they are. Those generations that are in the workforce receive information in different ways.”Kristi Morrissey Senior Manager, Benefits and Wellness
In 2021, due to COVID fatigue and other pressures, Niagara’s ALEX utilization dipped for the first time. So, with no significant plan changes and minimal payroll contribution increases for 2022, Niagara set a modest goal for their text message campaign. They hoped to hit 3,650 visits.
Almost doubling their engagement from 2021, Niagara’s campaign had a 96% success rate and yielded a whopping 6,121 visits.
More important than the numbers, the company got a ton of positive feedback. Team members said ALEX was “very informative,” gave them a “much better understanding of which plan to use,” and made them feel like “I’m actually working with someone and not just a computerized voice.”
Being fearless and trying new channels are essential to success, according to Kristi. She added, “Keep testing the waters on some of those channels and then make sure that you’re adjusting as you need to and listening to your teams.”