Educating your people about their benefits is an effective way to help improve employee satisfaction. Learn how your organization can deliver impactful messages that resonate with your people.

Authors: Sharn Kleiss Pepper Krach


Communication has a role in educating employees about their benefits that's often underutilized or even untapped. Understanding what communication resources offer, why they're foundational to perceived value, and when and how to use them is essential to delivering an optimal experience.

While employers continue to offer a broad selection of benefits, many want better results. As a means to that end, a recent report found that 74% of employers are placing more importance on total rewards communications in 2023.1

Benefits design and implementation undoubtedly impact workforce satisfaction, so it's important to be aware of factors that can get in the way of effective outcomes. If employees are overwhelmed by their benefits, they're often less inclined to use them, creating a cavalcade of issues. These issues include but aren't limited to decreased use, increased healthcare costs and declining employee satisfaction, which can lead to attrition.

Taking inventory is fundamental to a comprehensive understanding of the organization's full suite of benefits, and the extent of communication support needed to drive awareness and use. Although maximizing the quantity of benefits can increase employee choice, it often minimizes employer time for assessing individual impact and value.

Once employers have a complete view of their benefit offerings, they need to identify employees' communication preferences. These preferences are often actually expectations, and meeting them helps increase the odds that efforts to connect with employees and capture their attention are successful.

An effective communication strategy will hold the interest of employees by answering what's in it for them and simplifying how they access benefits. Tactics may include a variety of options such as personalized content, a link to targeted materials, or interactive tools that help employees navigate their benefits more intuitively.

Better talent management through more effective benefit communications

Clear communication shows a commitment to ensuring that employees can maximize the value of their benefits. And consistent communication helps keep everyone on the same page about related policies and practices. Through greater visibility and awareness, employers promote interest and involvement — creating a sense of ownership that encourages employee feedback and contributes to improvement.

About three-quarters of employers see a key purpose of the communications function as culture and belonging: creating an inclusive workplace where employees feel valued and energized. Two-thirds see strategic alignment as a key purpose.2 Strengthening the employer brand is another advantage of effective benefit communications that helps to retain and attract talent, while reducing turnover and recruitment costs.

Part of building a stronger employer brand and attracting more talent is also demonstrating a commitment to social issues. People want to work for businesses with purpose beyond profit. Yet more than 36% don't communicate with employees about environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.2 With the importance of ESG on the rise, especially among younger talent, having a clearly communicated strategy will likely improve recruiting outcomes.

74% of employers say culture and belonging is a purpose of communication function and 67% say strategic alignment

Simplifying design and implementation

Aligning the benefits strategy and implementation plan takes careful consideration. When coordinating the involvement of stakeholders, communications can be a conduit for an efficient process and effective results. Feedback loops help to create a continuous source of shared insights on employee needs and preferences, enabling a better match with their expectations.

Clarity is an especially vital component of communication during plan implementation. Accordingly, it's essential for benefits design to factor how employees will experience what they're offered, from the details of each benefit and eligibility criteria to how they'll be accessed. Considering the most important aspects of benefits design and delivery, up front, helps to improve strategic effectiveness and increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

The enhancement potential of digital

Advanced digital and virtual technologies can reduce the administrative bureaucracy that's sometimes encountered in benefits design. Automation and self- service often improve benefits navigation and access for employees. Personalized platforms, integrated with existing communications engines, also help simplify complex information while allowing employers to connect more efficiently with remote workers.

Digital messaging capabilities can target specific populations to increase relevancy, boost employee interest and enhance the employee experience. They also support content consistency and the integration of organizational communications — linking efficiency and effectiveness.

Evolutionary tech is expanding communication options from stalwarts like videoconferencing and tutorials to agile and highly efficient alternatives generated by artificial intelligence (AI). For example, push notifications and chatbots ("conversational agents") provide on-demand access to up-to-date benefits information and send reminders about enrollment. Emerging technologies like these — already the preferred benefits communication modes for many employees — can prepare employers for the large-scale transition ahead. Hyper-personalization (55%), AI (40%) and gamification (32%) are expected to impact internal communications over the next five years.2

Digital messaging capabilities can target specific populations to increase relevancy, boost employee interest and enhance the employee experience.

Storytelling and creativity are powerful benefits communication tools

Storytelling is often a powerful attention-getter because it activates the human brain to become more deeply engaged and helps the communicator connect with their audience emotionally. This approach can make benefits more relatable. When a story resonates with someone, it's more likely to be remembered and to influence that person.

Fifty-one percent of employers are using storytelling to deliver impactful communication.2 Stories create a sense of presence while providing better insight into benefits utilization and value — and the motivation to act.

Multi-generational and multi-platform workforces require a more sophisticated and flexible benefits communication strategy. The tech savvy of employees — whether they work remotely, onsite or a hybrid of the two — will likely continue to increase with each generation, introducing more variation in preferred communication styles.

Treating communication as an instrumental component in plan design helps boost the use of benefits and employee satisfaction. When supported by successful implementation, employers are also better able to align plan goals, gather insights, build consensus, provide clarity and increase engagement, which ultimately leads to higher retention and easier talent attraction. Communication experiences that are useful, relevant and relatable strategically connect an organization's benefits philosophy and culture to their intended purpose. But simply realizing that authentic messages create positive sentiment that has a lasting impact on employees and business outcomes may be the most important best practice of all.

Author Information


1"2023 Workforce Trends Report Series: Organizational Wellbeing," Gallagher, Jun 2023.

2"State of the Sector 2022/2023," Gallagher, Feb 2023.


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