Employee Communications

What is it?

Custom employee benefit communications supplement or replace materials from insurance carriers and present benefit program information in an easy-to-read format, while still meeting legal requirements for disclosure. Communications can be designed to fit a company’s corporate culture, style, and employee audience. Most communication campaigns occur during Open Enrollment; however, there are other opportunities throughout the year to educate employees about their benefit plan features and options.

Why offer it?

Clear and concise communication to employees reinforces the employer’s benefits and compensation philosophy and can increase employee appreciation of benefit offerings. A communications program can also ease the burden on HR/Benefits personnel by providing answers to the most frequently asked questions.

What types and sizes of employers offer it?

Any employer that provides benefits to employees should provide some type of communications related to their benefits program.

Employers of any size are capable of communicating to employees about their benefits. Here’s a guideline of what is typically offered, based on the size of the employer:

  • 1 - 50: Photocopied or electronic PDF format "benefits overview" brochure; periodic emails and fliers about benefit plan updates.
  • 50- 200: Same as above, plus organized open enrollment packet.
  • 200 - 1000: Same as above, with professionally designed materials; universal enrollment form; topical brochures focusing on 401(k) participation, family status changes, benefits during a leave of absence, etc. Employees have access to benefit forms and other materials online.
  • 1000+: Same as above, with a "themed" benefit campaign; consolidated summary plan description; periodic newsletters about benefits and/or wellness-related topics. Should also consider personalized communications such as annual total compensation statements and a web-based platform for enrollment and other benefit transactions.

What are the critical requirements?

  • Internal HR and Benefits departments are not always staffed to effectively produce benefit communication materials. Assistance from the employer’s benefit advisor is recommended to ensure materials meet quality standards for readability, accuracy, and compliance with legislative requirements.
  • Organizations desiring online solutions will need technical assistance to implement and maintain a web-based system.

What's new in this area?

  • Web-based communications have become commonplace even among mid-size companies and often replace hard copy as a means of making information available to employees and covered dependents "24 x 7" via a company intranet or website.
  • The next step beyond web-based communications is employee self-service (ESS) where employees make benefit elections or changes online and benefits information is personalized to reflect only the options for which the employee is eligible to enroll.
  • Through the internet, employees now have unprecedented access to benefits, health and wellness related information through their insurance carriers’ web sites and health portals such as WebMD. Employers may consider incorporating third party web portals into their overall communication strategy.

How much does it cost?

The cost depends on the size of the employer, the types and number of communication pieces, and the desired mode(s) of communication. Employers should budget 1-2 percent of their annual benefit budget for discretionary communications over and above those made available by insurance providers.

Informational link(s)

  • Benefit Intranets (PrimeWest Insurance Group)
  • Employee Self Service (PrimeWest Insurance Group)
  • PrimeWest Insurance Group Communication Consulting Services

Pros and cons

Pros

Eases HR’s burden of responding to benefit inquiries

  • Benefits are communicated in a consistent manner
  • Enhances employee appreciation of the value of their employer's benefit offerings
  • Increases employee morale

Cons

  • More extensive solutions may be cost prohibitive for some employers

For Questions, please contact:
Scott Martin - Broker Representative