Five Roadblocks for Employees Engaging with your Benefits Program

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A client once explained his employees lack of benefits use like this, “If I had a nickel for every time an employee said ‘I had no idea we had that benefit/program, I wish I knew about that when I needed it or awesome, when did we start doing that?….”. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone, it’s all too common. Many benefits leaders share stories of their struggle to engage employees in wellness programs and other benefits, even when employees asked for them. It’s frustrating for the employer and employee, alike. This week’s newsletter focuses on five reasons you may be running into road blocks in regards to employee engagement, and what you can do to combat it.

1) There’s Little To No Brand Awareness. Branding your wellness program or any program for that matter, through selecting a name or designing a logo, will give your program an identity that you can use to promote your program and encourage participation throughout the year. Through branding, the program will be more easily recognized by prospective participants and when a logo or name is used on communications it lets participants know that your wellness program is here to stay long-term. Lastly, employees are more likely to participate in a program that they perceive to be an important and integral part of your organization’s culture.

2) You’re Not Communicating Benefits Year Round. More frequency= more effective. Long-standing research in advertising has found that it takes between three to seven impressions of a message before it even registers for someone. So even if you think your message is getting stale or redundant, don’t fret. Come up with a good message and repeat, repeat, repeat. The term effective frequency is used to describe the number of times a consumer must be exposed to an advertising message before the marketer gets the desired response. So, the more you deliver a message and the more times it is seen, the more likely an employee (a prospect for benefit utilization) is to move from not even noticing the message, to contemplating the need to use the benefit, to actually engaging with it. 

In his book “Successful Advertising,” Thomas Smith makes the following reflection on effective frequency that may be both relatable but also help strengthen the case for increased messaging frequency. 

The 1st time people look at ad, they don’t see it.
The 2nd time, they don’t notice it.
The 3rd time, they are aware that it is there.
The 4th time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it before.
The 5th time, they actually read the ad.
The 6th time, they thumb their nose at it.
The 7th time, they get a little irritated with it.
The 8th time, they think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The 9th time, they wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The 10th time, they ask their friends or neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The 11th time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The 12th time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The 13th time, they start to feel the product has value.
The 14th time, they start to feel like they’ve wanted a product like this for a long time.
The 15th time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The 16th time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The 17th time, they make a commitment to buy the product.
The 18th time, they curse their poverty because they can’t buy this terrific product.
The 19th time, they count their money very carefully.
The 20th time prospects see the ad, they buy what it is offering.

3) You’re Only Sending A Flyer Via Email To Market Programs. Single dimension marketing and communication plans fall flat. Instead, use a multi-channel, multi-cycle campaign approach that incorporates text, email, slack, social media (encourage that employees follow your accounts for updates), intranet and direct mail in a coordinated way to help you better reach your employees and ensure that your messages are heard. Multi-channel means to diversifying the modes of message delivery, which increases the probability your messages will be seen. Multi-cycle campaigns involve running the same campaign over a set period of time using consistent messaging and a specific call to action. Think of yourself and your preferred way to receive communications. Every individual absorbs information differently, some are more visual, others prefer to read and some may prefer video content. For example, you may have employees who skip over that email blast, but when they have an advertisement in their hand or receive a text to their phone, they’re more likely to take a quick glance. 

4) You’re Not Tapping Into Motivation. Use incentives like gift cards, badges, or an extra PTO day to complete targeted actions, like getting an annual flu shot, selecting insurance benefits or getting a preventative screening. Some individuals may need external motivation to engage in certain programs, like company or carrier-sponsored wellness programs. Those who aren’t as engaged in their own wellbeing may find motivation through  monetary rewards, an extra day of vacation, a flexible/remote work day or a premium savings. 

5) You’re Not Leveraging data. Data from employee interest surveys or health claims is valuable information you can use to personalize benefits so that what you’re offering is relevant to your workforce. Your benefits are bound to go un-used no matter how incredible your communication strategy or incentives program is if the actual offerings are falling short of what your employees actually need and want. Communicating why employees need it [a program, or benefit] is also good practice. Some employees may have no idea why they should want to use a certain benefit or engage with a program, and part of selling the program to employees is being able to make them understand what’s in it for them. 

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