Tips for Supercharging Open Enrollment with Social Media

A key to achieving benefits communication goals

 

San Francisco, CA – Despite social media’s ubiquitous presence and use by all ages, few employers are adopting it for use in benefits communication. According to Jennifer Benz, “Common concerns about using social media are based on old assumptions, not real-world experience. Employers not using social media are missing out on an inexpensive and efficient means of communicating year round and supercharging their open enrollment communications.” Jen is founder and CEO of Benz Communications, a leading HR and benefits communication strategy firm.

Of the nearly 300 respondents to Benz Communications’ Inside Benefits Communication survey, the vast majority of respondents (83%) said they’re not using social media to communicate about benefits and 67% indicated 2012 would not be the year they give it a try.

“Social media tools-such as blogs, microblogs like Twitter, podcasts and videos, social networks and user forums-are easy-to-use, low-cost tools that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of communication and are perfect for year-round communication — a key to achieving benefits communication goals. They are especially useful during open enrollment, as they enable real-time updates, employee-to-employee sharing, and dialog with employees and families. Best of all, many can be integrated into existing online resources, and fully controlled and monitored, thereby alleviating concerns about privacy,” stated Jen.

Following are Benz Communications’ picks of the five best social media tools for employee benefits communication and how they’re best used during open enrollment.

Blogs

Blogs are a simple and easy way to self-publish web content. They also give readers the opportunity to have a dialog with the author. A blog on your benefits website or intranet is ideal for sharing information — tips, reminders, announcements, educational materials  — that will help employees get the most from their benefits. It’s also a useful tool for creating a dialog with employees. Request questions and comments to get real-time feedback whenever you post new content-be sure to reply.

During open enrollment
Take advantage of heightened employee attention during open enrollment: publish articles more frequently. Use your blog to push out information that supports your enrollment goals. If your goal is to get more folks enrolled in your CDHP, use your blog to help them understand what it is and how it works. Or, if your goal is to get employees to more actively participate in your wellness program, use your blog to share information about all the activities and resources available.

Microblogs

Twitter, Yammer and others are examples of “microblogs.” Microblogs let you post short updates — both pre-scheduled and ad hoc — and enable greater interactivity than a traditional blog. Integrating your Twitter feed into your benefits website or intranet provides a free and easy way to keep those sites fresh.

During open enrollment
Microblogs are perfect for sharing open enrollment reminders and tips, providing directions to information and defining complicated concepts and terms.

Podcasts and videos

These are online, downloadable audio and video clips that can be played on employees’ computers or mobile devices. They’re ideal for: communications from management about new programs and changes in benefits offerings; enrollment meetings and new hire orientations; educating employees about benefits offerings (e.g., a series on 401(k) basics). They’re also powerful tools for engaging employees; consider, for example, a contest for the best two-minute employee-created video about a key topic, such as health care, wellness or 401(k) investing — hearing messages from colleagues encourages employees to act.

During open enrollment

These two tools are now being used to replace in-person enrollment meetings at many companies. Use them to record employee meetings and post them where they can be viewed by employees when they want, from where they want.

Social Networks

Social networks-think Facebook and LinkedIn-are powerful tools for distributing information and ideas, and peer-to-peer communication influences, supports and boosts engagement and achievement. Consider creating an internal social network (or use your intranet) to connect employees with similar interests –e.g., losing weight, quitting smoking-and activities — e.g., volley ball, cycling, hiking. Or, create a Facebook page for your wellness program. This is especially useful if you’re offering a lot of online classes or events; be sure to share updates and information frequently to keep it fresh.

During open enrollment
If you’re using social networking sites, be sure to include your open enrollment messaging on them to extend your reach. Given their engaging social nature, employees are likely already going to these sites and paying attention to what they find there.

User forums

User forums are moderated online discussions focused around a specific topic. You can use these to encourage employees (and your benefits team) to swap ideas and answer each other’s questions about how to get the most from your programs. Structure your forum by benefit plan so information is easy to find.

During open enrollment

User forums are perfect for employee-to-employee sharing. During open enrollment, employees can share their experience and help colleagues take advantage of all the programs and tools available. You’ll be surprised at how helpful your employees can be at explaining benefits and providing helpful information about resources.

“Ready to supercharge this year’s open enrollment efforts? Embrace these low-cost, super flexible, easy-to-use tools to power your benefits communication and see employee engagement skyrocket,” concluded Jen.

About Benz Communications
Benz Communications is a benefits communications strategy firm creating integrated employee benefits campaigns for employers committed to nurturing high-performing and satisfied employees. Benz Communications’ clients include Fortune 500 companies and Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. Benz Communications also offers Bento, a customizable benefits website in a box, and toolkits and products to help small and mid-size companies educate employees about their health and financial benefits. Additional information about Benz Communications may be found here.