Groh & Associates, Inc. Identifies 10 Benefits Communication Challenges and How HR Professionals Are Beating Them
Getting employees engaged in health and wellness plans tops a list of 10 benefits communication challenges facing HR professionals in 2010. The list, researched and developed by Groh & Associates, Inc., also gives insight into how HR professionals are using the internet and social media in benefits communication.
Chicago, IL (PRWEB) January 20, 2010
What's hot in benefits communication for 2010? According to benefits communication specialists at Groh & Associates, Inc., the top benefits communication challenges involve engaging employees and spouses in better use of health benefits and wellness programs. "Employers who want a healthier workforce so they can lower health plan costs need to create effective education programs," said Ken Groh, spokesperson for Groh & Associates, Inc. "But, it's not just the education, it's how it's delivered that needs to change if you want to succeed with these initiatives," he added.
The benefits communication specialists at Groh & Associates have compiled the top 10 benefits communication challenges for 2010. The 10 challenges are based on a research project sponsored by Groh & Associates, Inc. to learn what leading Human Resources professionals are doing to update and upgrade their benefits communication.
1. Wellness. A healthier workforce means employees and spouses regularly check their health status and follow guidelines for healthy living. HR professionals have found better success with a more customized education strategy that integrates their health plans and resources rather than relying on one carrier's standard materials or separate communications from several plan administrators.
2. Benefits consumerism. Some HR professionals have introduced consumer-driven health plans that encourage employees to use their health benefits wisely and access the health plan's resources regularly. These plans give employees more responsibility for health and benefits management, so education on how the plan works is a key to success. HR professionals with the highest participation in these plans when they are offered as a choice use an integrated communication strategy to accelerate learning and create positive experiences.
3. Engaging spouses. With today's health plans requiring more education, spouses are often left out of the communication process, or included only in mailings. However, leading HR professionals are using extranets to reach spouses through home computers. They post video podcasts, narrated presentations and webcasts to include the spouse in the education process. Extranets are outside the company firewall, which means no security issues; and they can be quickly set up by outside web designers if waiting for internal IT is an issue. Social media can be used to pull employees and spouses to the site.
4. Compensation. 2009 wasn't a good year for merit increases and bonuses for most employees. Leading HR professionals found that they can keep top performers from looking at greener pastures by communicating how merit increases and incentives are tied to business performance and by helping employees understand how to maximize rewards in support of 2010 financial goals.
5. New hires. Orientation is the employer's handshake for new employees and, if effective, support a positive first-day experience. The best orientation programs are strong, friendly and enthusiastic with sharp and concise benefits education materials. HR professionals are using online tools to give new hires a better understanding of what to expect even before their first day.
6. Benefits compliance communication. New laws impact plan administration and need to be communicated to HR staff. Also, summary plan descriptions and other documents need to be updated.
7. Benefits branding. A brand is a theme and design used to promote a product or program. What works in product marketing also works in benefits education. Most leading HR professionals are branding their benefits and compensation communications.
8. Production costs. Cost reduction continues into 2010. Some HR professionals are saving money by replacing print and mailings with electronic communications. They are working with communication specialists to create and maintain benefits extranets to provide information on an ongoing basis. Podcasts, narrated presentations, just-in-time learning and personalized information are replacing print.
9. Annual enrollment. Nothing symbolizes the old style of benefits communication than the big white envelope mailed to employees during annual enrollment. It simply has too much stuff, no focus and no consistency in messaging. Leading HR professionals are replacing it with website communications and shorter messages, such as postcards. It's more effective and cheaper.
10. Health care reform. Since the public and HR media will endlessly speculate on the impact of health care reform on health plans, HR staff and employees may be confused and looking for direction. Some HR professionals say they will distribute occasional updates to reinforce the company's commitment to quality health care for employees and families.
For more details on these 10 benefits communication challenges, contact Groh & Associates, Inc, 847-334-0955 and be sure to visit the website at http://www. GrohComm. com (http://www. GrohComm. com) for fresh ideas in benefits communication.