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        5 min read

        Improving Benefits Communication and Engagement

        Improving Benefits Communication and Engagement

        While it may sound obvious, communication is critical to nearly everything we embark on. Strengthening communication strengthens everything: relationships, teamwork, and yes, even your benefits strategy. 

        Without good communication, it’s easy to lose understanding.  And that knowledge gap can make it difficult for employees to use their benefits. We rely on them to comprehend insurance terms like “out-of-pocket expenses,” “deductible” and “copay.” 

        However according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), “half (51%) of insured adults report some difficulty understanding” at least one of those terms, including 25% that found it difficult to understand terms like “deductible” and “copay.” Furthermore, 23% of respondents found it difficult to figure out which doctors, hospitals and other providers are in-network

        What can come from improved benefits communication?

        • Improves benefits satisfaction
        • Lowers healthcare costs
        • Increases utilization of all benefits
        • Improves employee health outcomes

        We know the status quo isn’t working. To help employees become better healthcare consumers, it’s critical to implement a year-round communication strategy focused around employees’ preferred methods of communication. Times have changed and so have the ways your employees receive information. 

        In this post, we’ll share tips and tricks we’ve learned while helping 1,000+ HealthJoy clients bring their benefit strategies to life.

        Simplify Your Communication

        Reading about employee benefits can be confusing. Here are a few tips to keep it simple:

        • Identify the essential information members need to understand their benefits. Don’t include anything unnecessary. Edit for length, then edit again.
        • Lose the industry jargon. If you can say it in plain English, there’s no need to overcomplicate it.
        • Write to the lowest possible grade level. Use Flesch-Kincaid readability tools like Hemingway Editor to simplify your writing.
        • Ask your marketing team to review all your communications. They’re experts at making things easy to read and prompting action. 

        The HealthJoy Way

        We’re always working to improve and maximize the performance of our messaging across hundreds of thousands of members. We apply this process to chat, email, notifications and even our virtual assistant, JOY. Our Broadcaster tool includes templated communications you can use to reach your employees with simplicity and clarity.

        Test Your Messaging

        No one should expect to create the perfect messaging on their first try. Rather than blindly try for perfection, develop a process of designing, testing and improving. Plan to repeat the process several times to get the best performance from your messaging. 

        Use this approach for every communication channel, including email, SMS, Slack messages, app notifications, or wherever else you communicate with employees. 

        Why test?

        • You only have a few seconds to grab attention
        • Small changes can lead to big improvements

        When not to test?

        • The test population is too small
        • No performance data
        • No time

        What to test?

        • Subject lines
        • Graphics
        • Layout
        • Calls to action

        The HealthJoy Way

        In emails, we track open and click-through rates and test subject lines, body copy, design and graphics. In the HealthJoy app, we monitor app notification performance and often conduct small experiments to improve. Testing is a fundamental part of our product design and process.

        Personalize Your Messages 

        Studies prove that people don’t respond to generic messages at the same rate as personalized ones. In a benefits email, for example, people want to be addressed by their name and see information that reflects their personal benefits. 74% of online users get frustrated when content appears to have nothing to do with their needs, so don’t skip this step. In return, you can expect an increase of 20% in open rates and a boost in conversions.

        The HealthJoy Way

        We send our members messages that reference their names, family members and exact plan details. We also incorporate a vast assortment of variables to make sure our messages are as personal as they can be. We segment outreach with specific campaigns based on demographics and even claims data. This personalization increases trust, performance and utilization.

        Use Multiple Communication Channels

        Communication preferences are personal. When reaching out to employees, it’s helpful to know how they want to view their benefits information. By prioritizing communications through employees’ preferred channels, you can ensure your messages hit home.

        Communication preferences are personal. When reaching out to employees, it’s helpful to know how they want to view their benefits information. By prioritizing communications through employees’ preferred channels, you can ensure your messages hit home. 

        Use a variety of channels, including:

        • Email
        • SMS
        • App notifications
        • In office 
        • Chat
        • Phone 

        The HealthJoy Way

        We coordinate a yearly communication plan that uses every available method to reach our members. Our goal is to maintain high utilization for all our benefits as well as all your plan offerings. Short and consistent communication ensures we stay top of mind. 

        Have a quick announcement? Our Broadcaster tool is a simple and intuitive way to deliver benefits communications quickly. It allows you to send templated in-app messages to eligible employees on their most frequently used platform — their mobile device.

        Lose the Benefits Booklet

        Benefits booklets are becoming a relic of time, just like Yellow Pages directories. Our survey revealed that when employees have questions, over half will turn to their benefits booklet. Yet, we know that apps and email outrank a benefits booklet when it comes to employee preferences. Perhaps that’s because when they need to use their benefits, booklets aren’t easily accessible. This is especially true in the case of an emergency. 

        What’s more, we live in an on-demand world. Employees expect to access their vital information directly from their mobile devices. If you have a benefits website, make sure it’s 100% usable on a smartphone browser. For an optimal experience aligned with employee preferences, offer a smartphone app. Apps provide the advantage of sending in-app notifications, which can generate drastically higher engagement than an email. With an app, you’ll also score a prime location on your employees’ phones.

        Americans now check their phones 96 times a day. That’s once every 10 minutes.

        The HealthJoy Way

        Our app displays the essential information found in a benefits booklet in the format employees prefer. This includes a complete summary of benefits for your employee health plan. 

        If employees have questions, they can also access live support from our healthcare concierge team. Combined with push notifications, the benefits wallet increases discoverability and utilization of all benefits.

        Reach Family Members

        According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 57% of women participate in the labor force, yet they make 80% of healthcare decisions in the United States. This means non-employees make many decisions about benefits usage. The same goes for dependents 18-26, who may be in college or starting careers far from their parents. Reaching dependents with benefits information is difficult but crucial — especially for underused programs like pharmacy savings tools

        Start by getting email addresses for dependents so you can include them in benefits communications. Make plans for year-round engagement, and use direct mail when necessary. Ensure they know about everything your company offers and how they can save their family money by engaging with all of their benefits.

        The HealthJoy Way

        We encourage spouses and dependents to create their own HealthJoy accounts from day one. When a member first sets up and activates their account, we ask them to provide email addresses for their family. We’ll even remind members throughout the year to send account creation invites to their dependents. 

        Family members receive the same access to HealthJoy as employees, so they can use our incredible benefits, too. We know that to drive engagement, we need to direct communication beyond the primary account holder.

        Plan 365 Days of Communication

        Open enrollment can be an excellent time to educate your employees about their benefits. Unfortunately, employees will quickly forget everything they learned within a few short weeks. Keep your benefits top of mind by mapping an entire year of communication. Make messages short and engaging by focusing on one to two different products or features every month. Monitor your performance and work to improve communication year after year. You’ll likely see an improvement in both benefits satisfaction and utilization.

        The HealthJoy Way

        Our goal is to provide the best benefits experience year-round. We keep all benefits top of mind, and our engagement campaigns encourage members to improve the way they use benefits. By saving them time, money and frustration, we create a better employee experience and improve benefits satisfaction.

        Redefining Benefits Communication Takes Time

        Explaining benefits well will take time and effort. Be willing to experiment, try new things and measure your results. If you onboard new employees often, test new ideas outside of open enrollment to see if they resonate. 

        When you get benefits communication right, you’ll know — you’ll see your benefits engagement skyrocket and savings follow. 

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