I’ve worked in employee benefits communications for almost a decade now. As a graphic designer and communications expert, I’ve seen and created my fair share of pieces. These include guides, newsletters, postcards, posters, narrated videos and more. Benefits are complex and the stakes are high, so I feel good about helping clients deliver meaningful and visually appealing materials.
Not everybody has the luxury to work with a professional communications services firm to design their campaigns. If you’re in a DIY situation, this blog post teaches best design practices to improve benefits communications.
Best practices show a thoughtfully constructed layout combined with well-crafted text results in better comprehension. So remember to spend some time on design as you prepare to talk about your company’s benefit programs.
Employees rely on you to educate them on new offerings, changes to their current plans, or any perks that may be available. Design is a strategy to grab their attention and make it easier to navigate complicated information.
Here are five best design practices to give your materials that visual edge.
1) Have a Focal Point
At first glance, your piece needs a visual focal point. In a newsletter, for example, use a catchy headline in a bold font to reel in your employees. If you’re introducing new cost-saving benefits this year, make them stand out with a headline that reads something like: “Guess What’s Coming in 2018? New Benefit Offerings to Help You Save Money!” A visually striking headline is one best design practice that will make your employees want to read more.
2) Use Quality Photography
Quality stock photography is another best design practice that improves benefits communications. Select photos that help personalize your messages. You could take it a step further and use photos of your own employees to communicate your company’s benefit offerings. Balance text with memorable images to spark employees’ attention and communicate in a visually pleasant way.
3) Pick a Color Scheme
Simplify your newsletter with a minimum of two to three colors. If your company has a specific color palette or branding guidelines, add some of those elements to create best design practices. This insures the “look and feel” is compliant.
A color scheme brings a sense of harmony and balance to the layout. If you want to direct your employees to take action on a specific task, you could apply your company logo color to a call-out box. This draws more attention to the eye and helps guide your employees to take action.
4)Use Enough White Space
Allow enough space in between paragraphs, columns, images and text boxes to help identify where content belongs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across pamphlets or brochures where the text from one column ran into another. This is clearly not a best design practice! When text and imagery are spaced proportionately on a page, it makes it easier to read and understand the material.
5) Keep Your Fonts Simple
Just as the context you’re communicating is important, your font choice is just as crucial. I typically stick with two fonts, at a minimum. Too many different fonts make your newsletter feel cluttered and turns away readers.
A helpful way of incorporating good font usage in your newsletter is to use a typeface from a font family such as Arial or Franklin Gothic. This enables you to apply a bold, italic or semi-bold font from the same family and not go overboard with competing font choices. This best design practice will improve your benefits communications
These simple adjustments to your designs will win over your employees. They will stay engaged and interested in learning the value of their benefit programs.
Lately, I’ve been researching different strategies to achieve goals. Whether a goal is personal or work-related, long- or short-term , taking the time to plan and prepare is key finishing with a home run! Here are six ways to help you efficiently and realistically reach your goals, so you are more likely to follow through with success:
1.First and foremost, a goal should be motivating. If you create a goal that’s too lofty or too small, you may become discouraged or bored, and you may find yourself departing from it early on. Think of something that interests you, or something that you always wanted to do, like taking extra courses to brush up on a skill, or starting a new blog. Once you’ve completed one goal, you’ll look head to the next one.
2. Try not to focus so much on the end result or the deadline of a goal. Rather, set a schedule to consistently work towards reaching it. For example, if you know you’ve been planning to finish a good book you’ve been putting off reading, schedule a time every day to spend a half hour reading. Before you know it, you’ll be finishing up the last chapter.
3. I am big on visualizing things to make them come to light. As you think of a goal you want to do, try to visualize achieving it. What will completing your goal feel like? What result will this accomplishment bring you?
4. Make achieving your goal fun. Having incentives can be a good way to keep motivated. For example, I use my iPhone fitness app to track and store my fitness goals. Once a fitness goal has been reached, it rewards me with a digital medal. Accomplishing a goal and getting a reward makes it all the more worthwhile.
5. Manage your goal more effectively by breaking it down into smaller tasks. It may be easier to see your goal as a series of small steps, rather than one large project. When putting your goal into smaller steps, you may be able to manager tasks better. This gives you a sense of accomplishment as you move closer to attaining your goal.
6. Write down your goals in a journal or display them on Post-It notes in plain sight. According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, people who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not. Turning a goal into reality may require you to see it on paper and let that be your starting point. A good quote taken from an excerpt of a self-help book states, “Goals are the road maps that guide you to your destination. Cultivate the habit of setting clearly-defined written goals” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart.
Most importantly, stay positive and look ahead. When it’s time to start thinking about setting goals, be ready to dive in and set a schedule to help complete them by your target date. Make it fun and realistic. If it gets to be too overwhelming, break your goals down into smaller tasks to complete one-by-one. Having a plan and working toward your goals on a consistent basis will help you stay focused on the task at hand.
As an organizational leader, how do you keep yourself engaged in your day-to-day tasks? Do you find that you sometimes want to mix things up a little and bring something new to your daily work process?
People depend on you for your skills and knowledge you have of your job and the company, so keeping yourself motivated is very important. With the busy months of open enrollment, it’s easy to get burned out and even lose focus. If we’re not motivated everyday by something, we may fall off track. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated, gain focus and keep you engaged in the daily demands of a busy work environment.
Remind yourself that it’s worthwhile. Recognize that you are helping your employees, peers or staff, by educating them on their benefits and helping them choose the right coverage for their families. Health insurance can be a tedious subject, but the knowledge that you bring can be both enlightening and invigorating.
Keep yourself and your employees informed. Not only do you want to keep your employees motivated about enrolling in their benefits, but you also want to make sure you are well informed about what your company offers. Learning more about your company and discovering hidden perks and programs that may be offered will keep you in the know – and to know is to believe.
Practice what you preach. When communicating good health and wellness behaviors to your employees, make sure you are taking your own advice. Stay motivated by choosing more healthy snacks during the day and making time to fit in an exercise or two. Take a walk with a colleague, or just stretch at your desk a few times a day. If you’re encouraging your employees to set goals to live a healthier lifestyle, show them that it’s not all talk.
With autumn on the horizon, it’s a perfect time to set out to do some purging and sprucing up around the house. Before it gets too brisk outside, I’ve decided to take on some home updating projects and clutter removal.
Decluttering is a must periodically, because stuff will just keep piling up and can get to be overwhelming. I have a whole list of things I want to tackle, so I’m rolling up my sleeves, putting on my thinking cap and getting to work.
Before I begin, I know that I will need to prepare by deciding which project to tackle first. The things I ask myself are: which space do I want to approach first; what materials will I need; what do I want to achieve, and what is my target goal date to finish.
With the focus on getting things in order, here’s a little food for thought on tips to help you get organized to make room for the busy weeks of open enrollment.
Keep your workspace clean. Open enrollment is hectic enough and having a well organized, clutter-free workspace can help to reduce some of that stress. During this time of the year, you can get lost in the disarray of an untidy workspace, so it may be a good idea to focus on sweeping your desktop (computer desktop, that is) and systematizing your go-to documents. This way, you can keep documents at your reach for reference.
Organize your files. Organize your workspace by categorizing needed files that are essential to the current open enrollment season like regulatory notices and compliance information.
By going through your files, like outdated benefits information, old newsletters and communication materials and ridding things that you won’t need to alleviate clutter, you can make room for new resources and information.
Start fresh. Newly designed communication materials and content can get your employees’ attention and draw them in to what your company has to offer.
Consider going green. As more organizations focus on the environment and gearing toward more sustainable, eco-friendly practices, going paperless during the usual paper-heavy open enrollment period can help to save trees and the company money. That’s a win-win – because, not only do you get a relief from piles of paper stacking up, you’ll also not have to worry about purging heaps of documents in the future.
When you’re heading into the busy open enrollment season, be ready with a plan to get rid of the old stuff and make room for the new. A well-organized workspace, fresh communication materials and allowing ample enough time to prepare will help put you on your way to a smooth open enrollment.
Let’s face it; change is hard to accept sometimes–especially when it’s unexpected or unplanned. When we hear or read about something being replaced, transitioned or eliminated, we tend to think that it’s a bad thing. Most of the time, it’s downright scary.
In reality, change is constant–happening even when we are not aware. Change is also often necessary when trying to improve or develop new strategies for enhancement.
Looking at change in a more positive light, evaluating its benefits, and learning to embrace it may help us to learn and gain experience in valuable ways. Don’t stress if you have to communicate change during an open enrollment, or anytime throughout the year–you can do this without causing fret or panic.
Here are some good tips that I’ve come across that may help.
1. Allow yourself enough time to strategize about how you will be communicating the new information. Plan early and utilize a variety of communication tools leading up to open enrollment such as emails, open sessions, announcement cards and interactive support tools like checklists and worksheets. This will help to alleviate information overload during enrollment time and make the process easier.
2. Most people appreciate it when things are laid out plain, simple, and to the point. It’s possible to do this, even when you’re talking about communicating the complexities of health insurance. It’s difficult enough for the average person to fully understand how an HMO works, but when you have to tell them that their HMO is now moving to an HDHP with an HSA, you may want to explain this with as much care and clarity as possible.
3. Be as openly honest and straightforward as possible. The strength of how you’re communicating is instrumental when helping employees to see the value of their benefits by conveying a clear and precise message.
4. By being consistent, employees tend to feel less confused and bogged down with the task of trying to figure things out.
When you’re communicating change, it doesn’t have to be thought of as a daunting task to bear. Expressing the value and discussing the advantages of new/different health and welfare plans can lessen anxieties and fear.