Benefits communication—wellness, medical and financial—is important information for employees to read and understand. However, I often hear communicators express the challenge of breaking through: “Not as many employees enrolled in the new wellness program as we hoped.” “A third of employees missed the opportunity to save money on their medical plan premiums; what’s up with that?”

So, where’s the roadblock? Content that is lengthy, confusing and difficult to navigate. Employees need communication that’s engaging and easy to consume—especially if they have to take action!

As a communication consultant, I’ve learned a few tricks that help me design benefits communication that is appealing to employees. Here are three unconventional approaches to rethinking your benefits communication so employees pay attention:

Blow it up! Restructure your content
Print the biggest piece you created last year, such as an annual enrollment guide, grab a pair of scissors and cut apart the sections. Lay out each piece or pin them to the wall. Then group the pieces into categories, including: important, action required, nice to know and doesn’t really matter. The objective of this exercise is to take a step back from all of the information and consider how you would reorganize.  

By taking apart the “bites” of your communication, you’ll have the perspective you need to restructure your content for better flow and remove what’s not important. Keep in mind, you can always link to items that aren’t critical. For example, include a call to action for employees, such as “Visit the intranet for more information.”

Get inspiration from outside sources
When brainstorming about a package to be mailed to employees’ homes, my colleague brought in recruiting pieces that colleges mailed to her daughter. Each piece was different: size, weight, shape, fold, finish, etc. But what grabbed my attention was how bold and unique these brochures were, especially how certain pieces were folded. These examples inspired us to come up with a fresh new design for a printed overview—an usual shape (square) with multiple panels.

Look through your mail, your favorite magazines or your email inbox. What grabs your attention? Perhaps it’s a smart headline or a simple graphic. Consider what prompts you to stop and imagine how you might leverage that idea for benefits communication.

Test your communication with friends, family or colleagues
I have a personal experience with this. I once flipped through my husband’s benefits package and was so confused! The dense packet of text had no table of contents, subheads or anything to guide me through the information. The materials were a chore to read, which didn’t inspire us to make informed decisions.

Try this with your next communication piece: Ask your spouse, a friend or a colleague to review a mock-up. What’s the first thing she/he notices? Is there information that’s missing? Can she/he find critical pieces of information? Another set of eyes is always valuable!

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