Types of Communication Channels

In order for employers to maximize their messaging strategy, they need to understand which communication channels are most effective at reaching their employees.  The chart on the right shows a list of strategies that employers indicated were most or least effective, with the most effective on the top. 

No matter which channel an employer uses, it’s important to put together a targeted strategy that includes multiple channels. In general, people who receive information in a variety of ways will have a better chance of actually paying attention to the information and taking action. Results of a study by Guardian showed[13]

  • Employees want to receive benefits communications in a minimum of three ways
  • When employees receive benefits communications through their preferred channels, 70% are confident in their benefit selections, compared to 57%.

Employers are getting more creative in how they communicate to their covered population. Some are using videos and training materials on employee portals, pre-enrollment campaigns and social media. 

Emerging Trends 

Social media (e.g. texts, tweets, blogs, web sites such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn) has been an emergent trend as a channel for benefits communications.  While employers may still be testing the waters, social media is widely used by health plans and vendors in the benefits space. Before a company embarks on this type of strategy it is important to understand their population’s level of interest in wanting to use it.

In a survey conducted by Benz Communications, 83% of employers reported not using social media. Eight percent reported the reason behind the “why not” – was that they did not feel it was effective.  Employers site that a company’s industry type, type of employee (hourly vs. salaried), age of employee, all have an impact on their interest in, and use of, social media.  In fact, MBGH employee focus groups conducted in 2010 indicated that the majority did not want to receive health messages on their smart phones. 

Best Communication Channels to Use

In the following 5-Step Method to Effective Employee Benefits Communication, employers can determine which communication channels work best with their approach. Determining what channel to use when is very important to the success of an overall strategy.

  1. Analyze employer’s available HR data/feedback including EOS (Employee Opinion Survey)
  2. Identify key areas for improving employee perceptions, knowledge and understanding
  3. Design communication program and implementation time line that includes:
    • Development of an overall image for benefits communication program
    • Initial communications focusing on the realities and business reasons for changes in the benefit plan designs (if necessary)
    • Plan out targeted communcation elements that address the top benefit issues
    • Different educational opportunities for employees to learn about becoming better health care consumers - include what employees can do to help keep costs down and how their decisions and actions can benefit themselves as well as the employer (dovetails to existing Wellness program, if applicable)
    • Determine specific pre-enrollment employee benefits communication campaign
    • Create new hire employee benefit kits, tools, resources and materials
    • Provide specific on-going employee benefits educational and training tools, resources and materials
     4.  Create and execute program per implementation time line. Repeat entire process annually
     5.  Conduct post-implementation surveys to analyze effectiveness and identify new opportunities
To read more about effective channels for communication click here.