Health care and other benefits are increasingly important to employees. However, benefits communication too often focuses on the negative: describing cost increases and takeaways. What you need to do differently is to provide context and make sure employees understand the big picture. Here's how:

  • Talk about the strategy. Why does your company offer competitive benefits? How does the package stack up against the competition? Answer these questions for your colleagues. Share the long- and short-term goals for benefits and employees will know what changes to expect in the future.
  • Share the reasoning behind the decisions. Chances are, the executive team has given the benefits changes a lot of thought, looked through the data and made strategic decisions based on cost-benefit analysis. Walk employees through that process.
  • Make employees part of the decision—and communicate it. The best HR departments periodically survey employees to know what benefits are best understood and most valued. This data is probably used in considering changes to benefits, but what were the results and how did the information influence decisions? Employees should know.
  • Show the value of their benefits. On a micro level, provide each employee with a statement of their individual benefitsincluding employee and company shares of the costto help them make smart decisions for their families. On a macro level, tell employees what the overall benefit bill is to the company, how rising costs are affecting it and what the changes mean to the bottom line.
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