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    August 19, 2022

    Streamlining Employee Tech & Communications - Revisiting Better Engagement

    Have you ever received an update on a change happening at your company or reviewed employee benefits materials and didn’t really understand what was being shared? For most organizations, your work culture has created its own internal communication style. It gives the company their own internal voice and can contribute to a good work culture. However, if the way updates, benefits, and vital information is being communicated isn’t resonating with the different demographics in your workplace, that is a red flag. It can cause stress, add to confusion, and create additional work, leading to even more stress.

    This fall, many companies will have an open enrollment period for their total rewards programs. Leaders spend a lot of time putting in the right mix of benefits and wellness programs for their employees, yet data shows that most employees only focus on the medical benefits. This is a huge miss, particularly when introducing a new benefit or highlighting one that you’d like to see get more traction.

    Going through a rebranding, rolling out a new division or project, or getting the company through a merger are all important times to look at how and when you are sending out communications. It should never be a one-size-fits-all approach, but a more strategic view of making sure information is clear, comes across in an inclusive way, and minimizes confusion.


    What You Can Do

    Since your total rewards program is probably your company’s second biggest cost driver, making sure your employees understand all that is available to them is important. If your company is making the investment, employee engagement should be the return. If they are engaged with what you have in place for them, that clearly shows the value of what leadership has put in place to support the workforce.

    Look at benefits that are not getting the engagement you’d like to see. It could be your EAP program, a transit benefit, or a dependent care benefit. It could be your 401(k) program or addressing college debt. Decide on one or two programs your team would like to focus on. Highlighting too many benefits at once can be confusing to employees.

    Decide how you want to focus on these one or two benefits during your open enrollment period and then how you will highlight those benefits several times over the coming year. On average, people need to hear about something new around five to seven times before they start to understand it. If you highlight the benefit or program only at enrollment time, chances are you won’t get the traction you’d like to see.

    Train team leads and managers to go over benefits and how they can help employees access them. Often an employee may not need a benefit at the time it rolls out, but the need arises later in the year. Because they didn’t focus on it at open enrollment, they often forget it’s available. Your managers can be helpful in directing employees to all available benefits.


    Major Changes in an Organization

    Not everything can be shared while a major change is occurring. However, having a clear communication plan can reduce a lot of uncertainty and stress. Taking the time to understand how a change can impact different teams, people from different backgrounds, or across a language barrier can create smoother transitions.

    With an intergenerational, diverse workforce, not everyone will interpret information in the same way. By reaching out to the unofficial leaders and getting them engaged in communications, information can get to employees in a way they will understand it. It will also come from a person they see as a trusted source. Reach out to the person that everyone goes to after a meeting­– those unofficial leaders are at all levels. It’s not about their title, but the level of trust employees and team members have for that person. They can be a great ally in getting information out in a transparent way.

    If you have a large segment of your workforce from a specific demographic, think about how best to communicate information to them. Does it need to be in a different language? Is the information itself not simple, respectful, and direct enough? You can have key people review drafts before sending out information. This investment of time means less explaining and confusion.

    Communications get reviewed, wordsmithed, and in larger organizations reviewed by legal teams. Getting feedback on drafts from the different demographics in our organization can cut down on stress for everyone involved. Clear, effective communication can also send a strong message that you value your workforce, you want them to have the right information, and the company took the time to make that happen. Clear and effective communications are a key piece of making all employees feel included, engaged, and trusting of leadership.


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