An HR Team’s Complete Guide to Benefits Communication

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Benefits communication: it’s no easy task! It might even make you feel like Sisyphus, rolling a big ole’ boulder up a hill only to have it roll down again. Only in this metaphor, the boulder represents your communications about your organization’s benefits. And it rolls back down again when you answer the same questions over and over, or you see your employees misuse (or worse, ignore) their benefits. 

How can you get that boulder to the top of the hill? Let us help you with our complete guide to benefits communication. We know everyone’s stone is different, so we’ve outlined common issues that HR teams face with unique solutions. We also know you’re busy, so we’re cutting to the chase in every section. (If you want more than the highlights, just click the links for further resources). 

Happy communicating!

Money on their Minds: The State of Employee Benefits in a Post-Pandemic Workforce 

The pandemic changed life as we know it, and employee benefits are no different. So before you dig into how you communicate your benefits, it’s a good idea to learn the what—what are employees feeling about their benefits right now? What’s missing, and where can we improve as employers? 

To answer those questions, we ran a national employee benefits survey—and the results were pretty revealing: 

  • Good news first—76% of employees are content with their current benefits package. 
  • Nearly all employees (91%) said they’re stoked about benefits education and want to learn/understand more in 2021. 
  • Here’s the not-so-good news, 20% of employees aren’t currently getting the information they need for benefits education. 
  • Additionally, more than half are stressed about benefits decision-making and concerned about costs. 

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, financial stress (especially worries about over-paying for healthcare or benefits) is a HUGE problem in the world of HR. We just can’t get around it; people will always have money on their minds. What we can do is ease the stress with education and support.

For more insights, get the full employee benefits survey report.

How to Build a Year-Round Employee Benefits Communication Strategy

Now that you understand the state of employee benefits, it’s time to devise a plan: here comes your benefits communication strategy.

The biggest point we want to drive home with you here is that employees look for benefits resources when they need it. We repeat: when they need it. 

Healthcare consumerism is a trend that’s pushed us to give employees all the information, all of the time. But think about it. We’re humans, we’re busy, we procrastinate, we do things when they need to get done. 

Employees aren’t becoming benefits experts at open enrollment. They skim, get a general understanding, make a choice, and don’t think about it again. Until….unsurprisingly, they need to use their benefits. Guess what, that’s a different time for each person. It might be in February when Sharon needs a teeth cleaning or during springtime baseball season when Fred’s son takes a nasty spill. 

This means you need an always-on approach to your benefits communication strategy. Cause ya just can’t predict when your staff’s gonna need that vital info! 

Another perk of an effective year-round strategy—it drives more business value. In other words, you get more bang for your buck when employees make smarter benefits choices.

Here’s how to build a year-round benefits communication strategy—that actually engages employees.

Benefits Communication from A-Z: Tips for Educating Your Employees About Every Benefit You Offer

You likely offer multiple different benefits, and with each option comes unique hurdles in communicating how awesome they are. 

For instance, do your team members get why an HSA can be a rockstar investment vehicle? Are your employees wisely maxing out those 401(k)s, so they’re not leaving money on the table?

It’s okay if you answered no! This is a judgment-free safe space, and we’re here to help. Just use some of our fave tips to school your team about popular benefits options. 

HDHP & HSA Communications

high-deductible health plan (HDHP) and a health saving account (HSA) go together like Batman and Robin. For those healthy, young employees, these two benefits superheroes can save them money, give them the coverage they need, and even contribute to their retirement savings. If only everyone knew about their superpower! But there are also some potential pitfalls and learning curves when using an HDHP. 


Get step-by-step instructions to help your team members understand their HDHPs and HSAs.

Boost HSA Contributions

Once you sing the gospel of the HSA, it’s your job as the HR professional to follow up and ensure your team members are adopting and contributing to their accounts. Why? Because more than one-third of employees (36%) never open their HSA account, and the average HSA contribution doesn’t cover most employee’s average out-of-pocket medical expenses. Eeek! 

Don’t let them forget about this powerful tool. With consistent communication and support, you can remind them to make the most of their HSA.

Check out our 5 tips for boosting HSA adoption and contributions.

Fix Your 401(k) Communications 

You can bang your drum about 401(k) contributions all you want, but it may fall on deaf ears depending on each person’s financial situation. The fact is, most Americans deal with debt (averaging about $90K, from everything to credit cards to mortgages and student loans). So understandably, a 401(k) that supports their far-off retirement goals might take a back seat to the bills they need to pay next week. 

But that doesn’t mean you should give up on trying to persuade them to utilize their 401(k). You just need to change tactics when it comes to your benefits communication.

Learn more about how to up your 401(k) communications game.

Why Every HR Team Needs Employee Benefits Communication Software

You can’t do this all alone. You can’t be everywhere at once, and you can’t sit down with each employee every time they have a benefits question. Even large HR teams can’t answer those midnight queries like “Does my healthcare plan cover this trip to urgent care?” Nope, no way!

Enter: employee benefits communication software. Your back up, your pinch hitter, your safety net that ensures no question goes unanswered, no matter how small. 

Why is employee benefits communication software a must for all HR departments?

  • Eliminate confusionMore than half of your team is confused about choosing their benefits, and 24% spend 7+ hours deciphering their options. Software breaks down complex plans into plain English and offers recommendations based on your team member’s distinct needs. It also injects a bit of needed humor to make this tedious process more easygoing. 
  • Onboard better: Programs like ALEX help you onboard and train new hires way faster and offer a streamlined employee experience—especially important in those remote environments. 
  • Save time: Benefits technology is consistently updated in real-time to reflect the latest benefits guidelines. Moreover, chat features mean employees can ask questions any time they’d like. All of this saves your precious time!
  • Reduce healthcare costs: Did you know 25% of healthcare spend is wasted annually due to administrative complexities? Employee benefits communication software can clear up confusion and help your employees select the right plan—saving both them and your organization money. 
  • Drive smart decisions: With information at their fingertips, and year-round support, your team members can not only pick the best plan but use it correctly as well. 

Learn more about why employee benefits communication software will make your life easier and save your company money.

3 Employee Benefits Communication Samples to Steal from Real Companies

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. And we agree—that’s why we dove into data from our most successful customers to find the best employee benefits communication samples. Use these real companies as your inspo to level up your processes. We translated each example into a tactic that you can use ASAP:

  1. Tap both your leadership and employees for testimonials: Getting management and regular employees to vouch for new processes can go a long way in implementation. A clothing retailer with 900 employees had their top brass and lower-level managers personally share demos of ALEX, resulting in a 117% usage rate. 
  2. Diversify your communication channels: Meet employees both on and offline. A bank with 2,999 employees proved this by using emails, social network messages, postcards, and newsletters, to increase its ALEX usage rate to 175%. 
  3. Leave them laughing: Benefits education doesn’t have to be stuffy and serious. One of our customers used ALEX humor in their messaging and saw a 40% YOY usage boost. 

Check out some of our other employee benefits communication samples for even more motivation.

How to Deliver Bad News to Your Employees: What to Do When Your Benefits Change

Benefits change, and sometimes not for the better (as far as employees are concerned). It’s a cold, hard reality of our HR world—budget cuts and plan changes happen. When you face those situations, you need to know how to deliver bad news to your employees in the best way possible. 

Follow our four steps to break the news gently: 

  1. Communication news “in person” first, i.e., in a live meeting (in-person or virtual). Then follow up with a documented announcement for employees to refer back to. 
  2. Test out your announcement on a select few employees to gauge reaction and prepare answers to potential questions or concerns. 
  3. Be transparent. Don’t be secretive about the reasons behind your bad news. Explain the C-suite point of view. 
  4. Use your benefits communication software or any other available HR technology to help roll out the news.

Head over to our comprehensive guide for more detailed instructions on how to deliver bad news to employees.

A Fool-Proof Employee Engagement Survey That Will Help You Improve Your Benefits Communication

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re behavioral science enthusiasts and data nerds here at Jellyvision. 🤓 It’s in our blood! And what better way to get an inside track on your team’s thoughts and feelings (complete with juicy stats) than an employee engagement survey? 

But not all surveys are created equal; it’s possible to get bad data or incorrectly analyze your results. So we put together the fool-proof plan to create an employee engagement survey. 

A few of the high-level insights you can expect:

  • How to cast a wide (but also appropriately seized) net with your topics 
  • How to structure your survey questions 
  • Ways to avoid confusing jargon and terminology 
  • How to structure open-ended questions to invite valuable responses 
  • Ways to increase participation and engagement 
  • How to communicate results 

Hop over to our instructions on how to conduct an employee engagement survey for the full play-by-play.

How to Measure Employee Engagement: The 4 KPIs You Should Know

While we always advocate for limiting jargon and acronyms, there are two we can’t deny—KPIs and ROI. Measuring employee engagement is all about those key performance indicators so you can confirm your return on investment. There’s no doubt about it! 

And employee engagement is paramount to your bottom line. Gallup found that organizations with high engagement are 23% more profitable, 18% more productive, have 81% lower absenteeism, and 66% higher overall employee wellbeing. So how do you track employee engagement to ensure you can see some of those benefits? Measure these 4 KPIs:

  1. Employee resilience 
  2. Absenteeism 
  3. Net promoter score 
  4. Turnover rate

Check out "How to Improve Employee Engagement: An HR Crash Course to increase your engagement levels against your KPIs."

Strengthen Your Benefits Communication Strategy 

Your employees will always have questions. There are going to be team members that ignore messaging. Some folks will simply not use their benefits how they should. 

It’s an inevitable — but solvable! — problem. Your benefits communication strategy can engage and educate your employees and improve their overall experience. 

While all the tips in this guide will help you sharpen your tools, ALEX will be a constant companion in providing support to your team members. 

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