Ever wonder why some communication materials get more attention than others? If the message is solid and the delivery method matches your employees’ preferences, your collateral should hit the mark. Does it have your logo? Check. Does it use the company colors? Check. It should grab employee’s attention, right? Well, does it include five design standards?
Although “art” can be subjective, good design is not open to as much interpretation.
Good design plays an important role in educating employees about benefits. This is especially true for “visual learners,” folks who prefer to learn by seeing, versus hearing or touching. Whether you create the design or approve a design produced by a vendor, you should understand how various elements work together. These design standards are valuable to engage the workforce with your collateral.
As a designer who has developed benefits-related and other types of communications for more than 20 years, let me share five design standards for your communications. They’re presented in an infographic, of course.
The face of benefits has changed. As costs continue to rise, companies introduce new benefits, like consumer-driven health plans. Traditional PPOs or HMO’s enjoyed by our parents and grandparents are now prohibitively expensive. Terms like deductible, coinsurance and health spending accounts are part of the vernacular. All this represents a seismic shift in thinking for your employees.
Do you know what your employees think about this new world of benefits? How do their perceptions reflect on how they feel about you as an employer?
Employees may perceive benefits changes as the company not caring about what they think—or need. That’s a dangerous path that creates workers who are resistant to communications.
Remember WIIFM in New Benefits Introductions
How employees receive new benefits information depends on how well you communicate it. A solid communications plan puts “WIIFM” –What’s In It For Me— first. It can swing workers in the right direction and support them in making benefits decisions that offer them valuable coverage.
Communications that miss the mark, or worse yet, minimize employees’ pain risk falling on deaf ears. This decreases the level of appreciation for the benefits you do offer and your efforts to save employees money.
So, how can you manage everybody’s health care spending without alienating your workforce?
Make an effort to understand what employees think about new benefits. And that starts with listening.
Ways to Listen as You Introduce New Benefits to Employees
When you introduce new benefits to employees, there will be many questions. Be prepared to answer them through a variety of communications. Note commonly asked questions as cues where to focus your communications. Remember, delivery method matters. If you mail postcards to workers who’d rather get a text, your message could end up in the trash.
Here are four ways to get your message into the minds of employees and introduce new benefits successfully. They include both conventional and out-of-the box options. Chose one or a combination of two or more, whatever works best for your needs and audience.
1) Focus Groups and Surveys
There are a few conventional methods, like, focus groups and surveys to help you learn what employees think.
They’re best used to complement one another. Surveys and quick pulse polls are good at getting answers to broad surface questions. Focus groups are excellent for digging down deeper into a single issue.
2) Engage Employee “Listeners”
While there’s many ways to communicate these days, the most effective remains face to face. Non-verbal cues determine whether 93 percent of communications are effective. In-person conversations are an essential tool for reading employees thoughts about new benefits.
Appoint trustworthy, likeable, approachable, and influential employees as “Listeners.” Arm them with some questions and send them to “Listening Posts” in high-traffic areas. There, they can approach passing employees and ask them question or two about what they think about the introduction of new benefits.
You decide how in-depth you want the questions to be. Promise anonymity to encourage honesty. Potential questions to ask include:
- Which aspects of the new benefits plan are unclear to you ? Where do you have questions?
- How do you prefer to get your communications?
The “listening post” process shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes. You could even give a small gift to anyone who participates.
3) Create How Are We Doing? Cards
Create a comment card style survey and place stacks of them near comment boxes around the workspace. Craft the questions to be open-ended and offer anonymity as an option. If you get any workable suggestions—and you likely will—be sure to attribute them to the program.
4) Hold Q&A Sessions
Often, workers don’t take advantage of the benefits they’re offered because they don’t understand them . Provide employees with an opportunity to participate in an open forum where they can ask their questions and get answers.
You can even offer separate sessions for separate groups, to provide new benefits information targeted to their unique needs or concerns. For example, one session can be for millennials just off their parents’ plans, another can be for new or expecting parents, and another can be for employees with chronic conditions, like diabetes.
Focused attention shows it matters what employees think when you introduce new benefits. As a bonus, you may get ideas for improvement you hadn’t already considered.
It’s crucial to strike the right tone in your communications that introduce employees to new benefits. These listening methods will help you refine your approach, benefitting both workers and the bottom line.
February is Heart Health Month. Employee health is an important all year, but this month might inspire you to consider how you can incorporate wellness into the workplace. One possibility is to add on-site fitness programs.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Workers are busier than ever. After work making dinner, helping kids with homework, and settling on the couch with This is Us bump exercise off the to-do list.
What if exercise was integrated into the work day? The convenience of working out in the office limits excuses and motivates employees to take care of their heart health. There are both small- and large-scale options to build on-site fitness programs for employees. Consider your employee population and budget to roll out a successful initiative.
Walk Your Way to On-Site Fitness
A walking club is the simplest way is to start. Walking is a low-impact activity that shows positive results mentally and physically. If there is safe space to walk near your office, encourage employees to step outside during their lunch breaks. Walking and talking with colleagues creates bonds and fosters employee morale.
Add friendly competition into the mix and organize a steps challenge. Workers compete to earn the most steps with the winner awarded a prize. Trion Group, Inc. hosted our own challenge and the winner earned a gift card.
Beyond rewards, the financial overhead for this style of on-site fitness is low. There is no equipment or instructors. Workers can use their smartphones to track daily steps.
On-Site Fitness is at the Head of the Class
If you want to take on-site fitness to the next level, hire an exercise instructor to teach a class. Start with a weekly class. If interest peaks, consider adding new options. Chose a class that requires limited or no equipment. So, Zumba yes, SoulCycle no.
Some popular times for classes include lunch time, early morning and late afternoon. Early birds might come in for a 7 am aerobics class. Others want to shake off the mid-day slump with a lunch class. An end-of-day class is a strong option for on-site fitness programs for employees as it lets workers go home after to shower.
This option requires open, indoor space, so it may not be available to all companies. Space for the class should be removed from other workers so the noise won’t bother them. Let all employees know class times so they can schedule meetings and phone calls accordingly.
Make sure proper legal protections are in place. Only hire insured instructors, preferably those certified in their specific fitness area. A lawyer should write waivers for employee participants that release the company from liability for injury.
Hit the Gym for On-Site Fitness
For the ultimate in workplace exercise, create a corporate gym. Buying equipment for employees is a hefty price commitment up front. However, the continual costs are low.
A gym would let workers exercise at their own pace at the time that’s best for them. Employees can squeeze in a session on the elliptical to clear their heads before that big presentation. Workers are more loyal to employers that look out for their well-being. 80% surveyed in one study said a workplace wellness program would entice them to stay with the company.
If budgets are a concern, partner with other companies in your building to buy equipment for on-site fitness. Workers would share the common exercise space. A corporate gym is an incentive to convince new companies to come into the building. As with classes, draw up a legal waiver for employees to sign before using the equipment.
On-site fitness programs for employees require an investment of time and money, yet could offer long-term cost savings. For every dollar spent on workplace wellness, employers saved $1 to $3 per employee on annual healthcare costs. Engagement in corporate fitness programs reduces sick days and increases productivity, which affect the bottom line.
One-third of prospective employees said free exercise classes would impact their decision to accept a new job. A little more than one-fifth said the same thing about an on-site gym. In the current employee’s market with its low unemployment rates, any advantage is a smart move.
Happy New Year! It’s time to prepare for a new journey for our well-being, both physically and mentally.
Well-being is encouraging myself and others to be remarkable, mindful, and live with a purpose. So, I’ll jump on my soap box and shout to the world: “Hey! Does your company support a wellness program for its employees?”
Well, if they don’t, I challenge you to stand on your soap box and get involved this year. Take ownership of your and your co-workers’ well-being. Create an employee wellness movement that drives change.
It’s time corporations listen and take interest not only in employees’ medical expenses, but in their whole person—productivity, engagement, loyalty, and job satisfaction.
Create a friendly, comfortable, open environment for your employees to develop a wellness movement. Your goal should be fostering a culture that is engaged, focused, and enthusiastic about living with a purpose.
Health care costs are going up every year. By incorporating robust wellness programs into your benefits plan, you encourage employees to take control of preventable diseases. Did you know that according to Health Affairs Magazine, workplace wellness programs support the prevention of cardiovascular disease?
It’s simple to create an employee wellness movement within your company. Remember listen . . . create . . . inspire . . . reward.
Develop a comprehensive survey to evaluate your employees’ understanding of how wellness affects every moment of their lives, at home and at work. Pose questions which are personal and caring. Ask how they would like to improve their health and professional development. Engage management to create a safe environment for your colleagues to get involved.
Your employees are hungry for health and wellness information. According to the Pew Trust Research Center, 35% of adults have gone online to find information on a medical condition.
Create employee wellness communications to educate, engage, and motivate. All communications should be targeted and multi-channeled with their frequency and placement.
Programs can start small, then grow into movements that drive behavioral change, enrich lives, and create productive, satisfied employees. Here is a case study on an insurance company that started a small wellness program and embraced the benefits of creating a culture of wellness.
Your employees work hard. Promote wellness by designing a work environment that drives behavioral change. A targeted, robust employee wellness program will inspire co-workers at every level. You will begin to hear chatter of wellness achievements and increases in behavioral change. These are the start of the benefits of a wellness movement.
Reward your colleagues for reaching their goals with caring and meaningful incentives. You will begin to see a community that recognizes success and celebrates each other. Your colleagues will come to work more productive, enthusiastic, engaged, and healthier. These are the benefits of educating and inspiring your colleagues into a culture of well-being. You did it! It’s an employee wellness movement.
The bottom line is, don’t just focus on the financial part of your benefits. Focus on the whole person. At Trion Communications, we have the tools to help create an employee wellness movement within your company. For more information please call or click to speak to one of our communication experts. We will help you get on your soap box and create a culture of well-being.
Remember to be remarkable, be well, be mindful, and live with a purpose.
We’ve reached December! Many of your employees are preparing to celebrate Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Festivus, etc.
It is also a season of stress, with cooking, gift shopping, and traveling. Adding some joy to the workday can help people forget their to-do lists, even for a little while.
So, why limit the merry making to after work hours? A thoughtful, seasonal celebration can raise office morale. Here are three ideas to make December a month to remember.
1. Give Back
The saying goes, “It’s better to give than to receive.” Channel some of that spirit of generosity into a holiday giving program.
Here at Trion, we collect toys and games for Toys for Tots, which celebrates its 70thanniversary in 2017. In 2016, the charity distributed 18 million toys. Many workers, especially those with kids, are already shopping for toys this month. This program is a simple way to give a child a little holiday wonder.
Another popular option is a sponsoring a family. The Soldiers’ Angels program collects toys and gift cards for military families. Ask your county’s social services agency which local families need extra cheer. Departments could team up to buy wish list items for parents and children in need.
If you’d rather take a more active approach, organize a volunteer event. Serving food at a homeless shelter or visiting elderly residents a nursing home are two ways to spread good cheer around your community. Some people do not have family and a hot meal or a friendly chat are simple ways to brighten their spirits.
2. Friendly Competition
Spark a little good-natured boasting at the office with a friendly, low stakes competition.
Many cultures serve traditional sweets at the holidays. Host an office bake-off. Workers whip up their seasonal favorites. The culinary-challenged serve as judges. When’s there dessert, everyone wins, but consider a small prize, like a gift card to a specialty food store for the winner.
Ugly sweater parties have become a staple this time of year. Bring the fun to the office to see who has the craziest wardrobe. Employees appreciate the chance to dress down and show off their playful side. Staff votes for their co-worker with the wildest ensemble and he or she is awarded a little gift.
Employees with desk jobs spend 40 hours (or more) at their desks each week. At least for a little while, make them festive. A cubicle and office decorating contest lets workers’ creativity shine. From twinkly lights to paper snowflakes, see who has the most style. People can tour the building and anonymously pick their favorite decorations. Consider a gift card to a craft store to honor the winner.
3. Not-too-Perfect Presents
Secret gift exchanges are a fun way to encourage interaction. Each employee gets the name of a colleague and anonymously drops off small treats throughout the month. At the end, workers reveal their identities and give a closing present, within a set budget. Pair employees from different departments to let them get to know people from outside their immediate team.
A white elephant party is another way to create camaraderie. Anyone who wants to participate brings a wrapped present of a set value. Workers draw numbers and number one unwraps a gift. Number two can unwrap their own gift or steal from number one. This continues everyone has a present. With large organizations, consider department-specific white elephants to make the event manageable.
When adding December festivities to the calendar, it’s important to respect all workers’ traditions. These events should always be optional and low-stakes, so employees who wish to opt-out feel no pressure. When decorating, consider a ban on overtly religious symbols. General winter themes are an inclusive way to create a little magic.
Holiday season can be time for team-building and bonding. Special events foster a sense of community among staff. Among the hustle and bustle of December, spreading smiles and goodwill ends the year on a positive note.
It has become rare to eat a meal with friends without having at least one person request modifications to their dish. More restaurants offer build-your-own options, from salads to stir-fry to the traditional Korean dish, bibimbap. This desire for customization goes further than food. People are looking for it in their jobs as well.
People want jobs they can customize to complement their lifestyle. For companies to stay competitive in the job market, they need to offer such flexibility.
Many employees have demanding responsibilities at home and at work. Trying to balance it all can become overwhelming, resulting in low quality work or missed assignments. Letting employees choose their own work schedule or work remotely helps them balance their responsibilities. This improves job satisfaction and productivity and reduces absenteeism.
Employees who have workplace flexibility achieve more, are happier at work and are less prone to burnout and psychological stress. Employees want work flexibility.
- 51% of employees would switch to a job that allows them flextime.
- 37% of employees would switch to a job that allows them to work off-site at least part of the time.
- 42% of employees would take a lower-paying job if it offers more work flexibility.
- Some employees are even willing to leave their current jobs for a series of temporary jobs, just to have flexible hours.
Sixty-nine percent of full-time employees are not completely satisfied with their current benefits. With five generations in the workplace, it’s easy to see how one benefit plan can miss the needs of employees who are in different stages of their lives. Tuition reimbursement may be popular with Millennials, but how relevant is it to Baby Boomers who are looking ahead at retirement? How about offering some flexibility with your benefits?
- Flexible Benefit Plans: Employers can offer core benefits (salary, health insurance, and retirement). They can add optional choices like life insurance or dental insurance. Costs for optional benefits can either fully paid by employers or shared with the employees.
- Flexible Spending Accounts: Employers can offer flexible spending accounts where employees deposit pre-tax dollars to spend on child care or transportation. Employers can also contribute to these funds.
- Paid Time Off (PTO): Instead of a division between vacation days and sick days, employers can offer a bank of total paid time off. This prevents healthy workers from getting “penalized” because they are not using sick days and discourages employees from calling-in sick for a day off.
Not every company can offer flexible schedules or flexible benefits to their employees. All companies can create flexible environments to complement their employees’ lifestyle and values. Here are some perks your company can offer to employees:
- Casual dress code
- Pet-friendly office
- Summer hours
- Wellness programs with discounted gym memberships or on-site yoga classes
- Transportation or parking reimbursement
- Volunteer day
Flexibility is important to attract and keep talent in this competitive job market. Remember to keep your company’s culture, values, and operations in mind to balance your with your employees’ wants.