Welcome to our new blog! The first topic I wanted to talk about is creativity, or better yet, the process of becoming creative. You know that term you think about when you want to come up with ideas to change up your living room, finally sit down to write that exciting novel, or even effectively communicate benefits to your employees. It’s sometimes painstaking to think about, but can be an essential part of everything we do. Whether you start by not having any idea at all, or you have an idea and don’t know where to start—just let it happen! This is how we all begin when trying to come up with something new and different.
Creativity is not a skill, or something that you can be taught—it is digging into YOU and pulling out those imaginative thoughts that are already there. Having a Graphic Design background, I am always looking for new ways to come up with simple and engaging communications. I have come to realize that finding your creative self takes effort in thinking outside of your ordinary comfort zone. It requires exploring new and different ways of doing things. Don’t be scared, just do it—say the idea out loud or write it down and make it real. It can possibly work to your advantage in the end.
My creative process is finding inspiration from people I talk to and places I visit, and jotting down information (whatever comes to mind) that I may or may not use. The point is that it is important to take note of things you come across because you never know when or where they may be useful. Working at Trion, I have learned to think more openly and freely about how to approach my everyday tasks and how to apply my creative process to help communicate employee benefits and wellness to our clients.
For example, after rambling through all of my thoughts on a newsletter cover idea for one of our clients, I finally stepped away, referred to my book of notes and envisioned myself seeing the result through their eyes. Focusing on the needs of our clients and what they represent is a crucial part of this process. In the end, it worked out well, and I was able to produce a cover page that was both appealing and pleasing to the client.
Therefore, when you’re trying to find inspiration for a project, mix things up a little, take risks and see what happens. You may be surprised and proud of what you can accomplish. Being creative is there within us all and it may mean something different for all of us. Finding your process to come up with new ideas may take time and energy, but trust that the ability is there.
As a great woman once said…“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
― Maya Angelou
It’s been said that there’s nothing new under the sun. Not precisely true; in 2007 no one had ever seen anything remotely like an iPhone before. While it’s true that it was a telephone at its heart, it was so revolutionary in its execution that it almost had to be called New.
So if you take an old concept, turn it on its head so that it is virtually unrecognizable, is that then New?
What if you attack age-old problems with the kind of innovative thinking that produces concepts like the iPhone, like the original Star Wars, like the Tesla Model S, like the Beatles? Will you produce results that revolutionize the industry?
And that’s what we’re trying for here at Trion’s Communications Practice. Our problem itself isn’t new—how do we get our clients’ employees to pay attention to their benefits communications—but our thinking is. Our Practice Leader, Jill Murray, makes it clear that nothing is off limits. We’re constantly exploring new possibilities for communications channels, messages, delivery methods, promotional opportunities, new ways to wow our clients and those we ultimately serve – the employees.
And it’s starting to pay off. We’ve been winning a constant stream of awards for our work, most recently for one of our Brainsharks (a type of video). Our clients continually report that our communications get results: Higher enrollment numbers, better adoption of consumer-driven plans, more flu shots and other preventive measures, etc. And clients are starting to see the real value that a dedicated communications team can bring to the table.
And we’re not done by a long shot. We’re going to continue to innovate, to revolutionize, to look relentlessly for the New. We will carefully examine our audiences, capture data, analyze and interpret, and extrapolate the most effective channels for the most dramatic results. But we will also employ that reach-for-the-skies thinking that ultimately results in revolutionary execution.
[Dear reader: To fully share our team’s diverse perspectives with you, we have asked our summer interns to contribute to our blog during the time they are with us. These young professionals, who are preparing to lead the next generation of marketers and communicators, bring a unique and valuable voice to the conversation. You can learn more about each of our interns through their bylines at the bottom of their posts.]
Every day, you should strive to be a little bit better than the previous day.
As Aldous Huxely once said, “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” If you wake up every day with that mindset, the challenges and everyday adversity you face will be conquered and you will truly seize the day.
Taking leaps and strides in the right direction every day begins with your attitude and how you start your day. It is important to find a routine that works for you and is effective. Finding what allows you to start the day off on the right foot is a key to success and enables you to come into the workplace with a positive and open mind. There are many different avenues you can take in regards to starting the day, whether that be going to the gym for a run or enjoying a nice warm cup of coffee.
Another attribute that is a stepping stone for success is setting weekly goals, and quotas you want to meet. For example, at the end of the week, take a sticky note and spend five minutes writing down what you want to accomplish during the upcoming week. Consider having one goal be a stretch, but if accomplished would truly be an outstanding achievement. That way, if you’re not completely awake Monday morning when you come into work, you will have some sort of structure and a sense of direction that will set you up for a productive and successful week. I personally find that when I start the day off by working out or going for a run I am more productive. I run every day before work and really believe that endorphins are the best coffee there is.
It is important to be doing work to generate results — the point of work is not simply work to be busy. If you want to be successful, you need to have purpose and an end goal in mind. Proper planning prevents problems and helps you reach that goal. Preparation and a plan of action will help you succeed at whatever you want to accomplish.
Ryan Barr is a senior majoring in Marketing and Sustainability with a minor in Media Analysis at Arizona State University, in Tempe, AZ. The facet of marketing he enjoys the most is the creative process of coming up with an effective and revenue-generating campaign.
In my non-work life, I volunteer at my local community hospital. Every Thursday evening you’ll find me behind the emergency room information desk, giving directions, showing visitors to their loved one’s room, helping patients into wheelchairs, even fetching the occasional vomit bag (not my favorite task by a long shot).
I love being a volunteer! There’s no performance evaluation, people say “please” and “thank you”, and I get to eat in the hospital cafeteria for free. Plus I’ve always had an interest in medicine so I find the setting fascinating. Blood, foreign bodies, broken bones! Nothing that awesome ever happens in the office. After all, as I’m fond of saying as a way to relieve stress at work, “it’s only benefits; we’re not saving lives here.”
But while it’s true that the actual benefits themselves may not be a matter of life and death, volunteering at the hospital has taught me an important lesson: Real life and death situations are when people count on their benefits most. That’s why it’s so important that we give them clear, concise, easy-to-access information about their benefits, so they can make informed decisions when those situations arise.
The first-time mom in premature labor, the young family whose two-year old is having unexplained seizures, and the retired teacher struggling with substance abuse are all my audience, and having met them has changed the way I think about my role as a benefits communicator.
So as this year’s busy annual enrollment season approaches, I’m keeping those people in mind. Doing so will inspire me to draft benefits communications that are more understandable, more relatable, more personal. And while I may not be saving lives, if I can help make someone’s life a little easier when they need it most, I’d say that’s pretty awesome.
“If you build it, they will come.” Sure, it’s one of the more memorable lines in movie history. But it’s terrible business advice, whether you’re talking about a startup company, a new location of a retail store or restaurant, or employee benefits.
If you don’t tell people what’s available, they don’t know it exists. That’s why the U.S. spends $180 billion a year on advertising.
Benefits are one of the biggest operating expenses of any business. But are you getting the maximum value out of that investment?
It makes sense, both financially and in terms of recruitment and retention, to encourage employees to take advantage of the benefits you spend so much on. Consider the following:
- 38% of global employers report difficulty filling jobs, according to a 2015 survey by the Manpower Group.
- 96% of workers who are satisfied with their benefits also say they are extremely/very satisfied with their job, according to the 2016 Aflac Workforces Report.
- Companies with no communications strategy are three times more likely to lose high-potential talent, according to 2016 data from Aptitude Research Partners.
- The same data showed a strong link between communications and both employee engagement and positive candidate experience. Among employers with a communications strategy in place, 78% report improved employee experience and 82% reported improved candidate experience in the past year.
If you offer a competitive benefits package, you’re already most of the way there. You just need a plan to communicate those benefits that factors in best practices, such as:
- Communicate year round, not just at open enrollment.
- Include voices from leadership to convey sponsorship and model desired behaviors.
- Use a variety of tactics to appeal to different kinds of learners (e.g., email, print, video, face-to-face meetings, webinars, etc.)
- Emphasize the WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me) – that is, put it in terms that resonate with employees’ needs, not the company’s.
- Keep it simple by using clear, straightforward messages and calls to action. Don’t dump every single thing you want employees to know in one email. Avoid jargon or overly complex scenarios.
You’ve already taken the ball to the one-yard line. A communications plan is the push you need to get into the end zone. Find more tips on creating a good plan by downloading our white paper, Educating Employees About Their Benefits: A Six-Step Approach. You can also take a look at some of the ways we’ve helped clients unlock the value of their benefits programs in our online portfolio.