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.