The biggest secret to unlocking the value of your benefits? Communicate, communicate, communicate.
For decades until its closing in 1995, Thompson’s Clam Bar used the same radio jingle to advertise its dockside dining on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Its familiarity on local airwaves represented so much more than fresh seafood. It was the essence of summertime on Cape Cod and could be counted on to herald the start of the season each year.
Repetition is a classic marketing tactic that has only become more important in the digital age. Marketers have been experimenting with striking the right number of messages since as far back as the late 19th century.1 And what they’ve found will come as no surprise. The more we hear, read, or see something, the more influence it has on our behavior.
Year-round communication amplifies this influence because it allows your messages to be repeated again and again. Here are 5 reasons why communicating throughout the year—and, yes, repeating your messages—will improve employee engagement and deepen appreciation of your benefits.
1. It builds a habit.
You need people to get in the habit of knowing where to go to find information about their benefits—optimally, your benefits website. But first you need to get them in the habit. And you do that through push communications. These are messages you send out, like emails, letters, and social media posts, among others. Through them, you build awareness of how and where to find information when it’s needed. This is crucial for employee benefits. Needs can change quickly. When they do, you want employees to be in the habit of going to your benefits website for the information they need. This will help them feel empowered and supported—and they’ll appreciate your benefits more as a result.
2. We learn differently.
Every message won’t resonate with every person. That’s because each of us understands and connects with information differently. We bring different life experiences—and different levels of understanding—to the information we receive. So, it’s critical that you try different approaches and use a variety of media to connect with diverse consumption styles, literacy levels, and communication preferences.
3. People are busy and distracted.
Your employees are juggling a lot. It’s no secret that we’re oversaturated with information and pressed for time. So how do you compete for your employees’ attention? Take a page from the marketing playbook, and apply the rule of seven.2 This concept refers to the number of times someone needs to receive a message before they decide to make a purchase. Because technology allows marketers to send repeated, sophisticated, and targeted communications in just one day alone, it now takes even more attempts to get your message to resonate.
4. People forget.
Remember your high school Spanish? Or French—or anything else you used to know? Chances are, if you haven’t practiced it, you don’t remember much. That’s because if you don’t use it, you lose it. The same principle applies to our knowledge of health care and finance. Both fields are steeped in highly technical language. Retirement planning alone requires some knowledge of two separate languages that put off many people: investing and math. (It also requires that you think about two other highly unpopular topics: old age and death.) The bottom line is: Whatever you don’t practice, you forget. Research into financial decision-making backs this up. A team of academics recently concluded that for financial education to be effective, “there must be some immediate opportunity to enact or put to use knowledge or it will decay. Moreover, without a ready expected use in the near future, motivation to learn and to elaborate may suffer.”3 How do you build literacy, then? Through repeated, frequent interactions, so employees know where to go during times of need. Sound familiar yet?
5. It’s not what you say; it’s how you make people feel.
Nearly every organization talks a big game when it comes to offering “competitive benefits.” But if employees only hear about your awesome benefits when they’re hired and during open enrollment, will they really understand and appreciate all that you offer? According to a recent study, “84% of employees with high benefit satisfaction report high job satisfaction.”4 Since job satisfaction impacts engagement, productivity, and the bottom line, it literally pays to be recognized for your great benefits.
The only way employees can appreciate your benefits is if they know about them. That’s why repetition and communicating year-round is the surest way to up your benefits game. It’s also key to taking a marketing approach to benefits communication. When you communicate more often, employees will become more familiar with the benefits you offer, they’ll be more likely to use them, and they’ll value your organization more, as a result. And just like the jingle for Thompson’s Clam Bar, frequent communications will leave an impression of your organization that extends far beyond the details of the programs you offer.
We're proud to work with large employers who recognize the business value of engaging employees in benefits. If you want to learn more, contact us.
3 Daniel Fernandes, John G. Lynch, and Richard G. Netemeyer, "Financial Literacy, Financial Education and Downstream Financial Behaviors," Social Science Research Network, Jan. 6, 2014.
4 Guardian Life, Workplace Benefits Study, 2016.