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BRANDE : Benefits

November 2, 2017

EMPLOYEE BENEFIT COMMUNICATIONS – IT’S TIME TO DISRUPT!

November 1st marks the beginning of open enrollment season for a majority of U.S. organizations, and we thought it would be timely to look at some startling stats and the latest trends in employee benefit communications.

The good news is this: Employee Benefits have high positive impact on talent attraction and retention:

• 92% of full-time employees believe that companies that offer nontraditional benefits are more likely to recruit top-tier talent (ICIMS)

• 88% of executives agree that benefit programs have the most impact on improving employee loyalty as well as increasing employee engagement and lowering company medical costs (Wells Fargo)

• 75% of employees reported they’re more likely to stay with their employer because of their benefit program (Willis Towers Watson)

• 62% of employees under 50 wouldn’t consider working for a company that didn’t offer voluntary benefits (BenefitsPro)

• 35% of millennials have turned down job offers because they were dissatisfied with the benefits (Anthem)

Though employee benefits are becoming more costly for employers to offer, it’s great to see that they are a worthwhile and well-appreciated expenditure, particularly given the competition for talent and the millennials’ propensity for job hopping and freelancing. Offering a flexible and diverse set of benefits can really be a differentiator, particularly for small and medium-sized companies.

So how can you make sure you’re realizing the maximum impact from your efforts

  1. Implement an Integrated Communications Plan that Considers All Audiences and Influencers

Different generations in the workplace have different preferences for how they want to receive their information and in many cases, the person responsible for evaluating the different plans and options is not even your employee. Make sure you appeal to each of your audiences by crafting a combination of digital and traditional materials that can be accessed at home and work across a variety of platforms. Provide real-time text updates or the opportunity to downloadable digital assets (worksheets, PDFs, presentations) from a benefits microsite that can be accessed from your intranet, or through an easy-to-remember, password-protected URL (www.mycompanybenefits.com).  Hang posters, send emails and postcards and display signage in the cafeteria, digital screens, lockers and gyms.

  1. Less HR-Speak and More Personalization

Remember, you are talking to people. They may have health considerations, financial concerns and families to consider. Their native language isn’t always English.  If you’re a benefits administrator, make sure you keep it simple, employing less copy and more visuals, including infographics. Define terms, use FAQ sheets, tutorials, worksheets and videos to ensure that people are opting for the best choices for their situation, vs the ones that initially seem to cost less, or that they may be most familiar with.

  1. Use the Power of Branding to Disrupt at Every Opportunity

Each of us are bombarded with thousands of messages each day so make sure that your benefit communications are breaking through the clutter. Consider a theme or foundational message that you tie to everything. Add a logo. Put a sparkle in your emails by using attention-getting subject lines. Make sure that the envelopes you send home are colorful, clearly marked and iconic. Hold contests and competitions and give away prizes for accomplishing sprints by location or department.

According to an International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans survey, 80% of participants do not open/read materials and 49% don’t understand them. Use the business case and simple strategies to reverse the trend, improve your results and build your talent brand through benefits.

Get it touch if you need some help! 

May 14, 2012

The Week’s Most Important HR Tweets

I follow some great HR accounts on Twitter which are always sharing the latest news and innovations in talent acquisition, retention, benefits, and related topics. I retweet as many of these insights as I can, but sometimes the gems get buried in the constant stream of news. So here, in the relaxed atmosphere of BRANDEblog, I thought I’d share some of the week’s most important HR tweets.



A number of major HR thought leaders, including host of the HR Happy Hour Show Steve Boese, were tweeting their answers to the question Who Does Your LinkedIn Profile Belong To? This post, by Jessica Lee on the terrific Fistful of Talent blog, brought up the issue that, since HR professionals are the face of their companies, their LinkedIn profiles should use the same branding, language, and voice that their companies do. But some HR personnel resist, believing that their LinkedIn profiles are personal and that their companies have no say in the matter. It’s an interesting debate that’s still happening on Twitter. Where do you stand?

Both HR Bartender author Sharlyn Lauby and Leute Management Systems CEO Tom Bolt tweeted about Steve Boese’s article, Disconnect: When What You Offer Is Not What They Want. Steve points out that a company’s benefits don’t always match employee needs. He gives the example that the main obstacle employees give for relocation is their spouse’s work situation. Yet the most frequently offered relocation benefit offered by companies is moving expenses assistance, which doesn’t address that obstacle at all. His solution? “Actually ASK the constituencies that they are trying to serve and support what is important to them.” I agree. Why conduct surveys like the one Steve cites if you’re going to ignore the results? As an HR professional, you owe it to your employees to ensure that management interprets the surveys in the right way.


HR professional Melissa Fairman (known as HrRemix on Twitter) tweeted about a fascinating article she wrote called Down With Work-Life Balance. In it, she prefers the term “work-life integration,” with the goal of harmonizing employees’ careers with their personal lives. Many workdays aren’t “balanced” at all, as employees either stay late at the office or do personal tasks on company time. Melissa argues that companies should give their employees more control over their time, and customize schedules and workloads for each individual. “Integration helps an employee understand themselves and their optimal working environment, and in the best scenario, employees can make informed decisions and work directly with their managers/teams,” she says. Do some of your employees blend personal and work tasks? Then they’re “classic integrators” and should have their work-life balance re-evaluated.
For more thought-provoking HR tweets, be sure to follow Steve, Jessica, Sharlyn, Tom, and Melissa – along with Brandemix and my personal Twitter, of course. And if you know of more HR Twitters worth following, drop me a line.
March 5, 2012

The Hidden Information Inside Fortune’s 2012 Best Companies to Work For

Fortune magazine just released its list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. But while many news outlets and job boards are covering the main list, the magazine’s researchers compiled some very detailed and segmented data. And I found some patterns emerging on why certain companies have created authentic employer brands as great places to work.

Keeping Employees Healthy Keeps Them Happy
Fourteen companies on the Fortune list pay 100% of their employees’ health care costs. Sure, that’s easy for giants like Microsoft, but a number of small firms do it, too, including Boston Consulting Group, NuStar Energy, the Everett Clinic, and Perkins Cole, which all have around 2,000 workers. As health insurance costs climb and the Affordable Care Act’s future becomes cloudy, health care should be part of every organization’s employer value proposition. How do you handle your employees’ health benefits?

Diversity Counts
Forty-four of the 100 companies have a workforce of at least 50% women. Twenty-three of the companies have a workforce of at least 40% minorities. Eighty-nine of the companies offer domestic partner benefits. We’ve long known that diversity brings fresh, new perspectives to an organization. Now we have the hard numbers to back it up. And don’t forget that “diversity” includes people with disabilities and older workers.

It’s Not Just About Money
Amazingly, 27 of the companies give hourly workers an average annual pay of under $40,000. That includes Men’s Wearhouse, CarMax, Aflac, and Starbucks. Five of the companies, including Nordstrom and General Mills, pay annual salaries of less than $50,000. And yet they beat out hundreds of other, better-paying firms to make Fortune’s list. Obviously these companies have great employer branding and are attracting and engaging employees in other ways. Which brings us to…

Uniting Employees in Unique Ways
One of the lists on the Fortune site is called Unusual Perks, naming some clever benefits that improve employee satisfaction. Among them is NetApp, which offers a basketball court, volleyball court, and massage rooms. Alston & Bird provides free Spanish classes. The Southern Ohio Medical Center features an employee-run vegetable garden. FactSet Research brings local food trucks to its offices, along with free lunches and weekly summer barbecues. And Pricewaterhouse Coopers offers a Mentor Moms program, pairing up expectant mothers with other moms at the company.

What do these top-10 perks have in common? For one, they all bring employees together. Whether they’re eating, learning, planting, or playing, all these perks have a communal aspect that helps build teamwork and camaraderie. Compare that to #4 Wegmans’ free holiday coupon books, which employees use to buy products on their own. Nice, but how does that improve the workplace?

More Perks That Employees Love
Not every company can put a basketball court in their office. Some of the more conventional benefits that the top companies offer include: an on-site child care center (31 companies), an on-site gym (69 companies) or off-site gym discounts (61 companies), telecommuting (85 companies), and the option for a year-round compressed workweek (80 companies).

The Secrets of the Top 100
My takeaway? These successful companies have brought in a broad array of workers with different backgrounds. They pay their employees well or offer substantial benefits, or both. They offer unique perks that allow workers to interact across departmental lines and to socialize before and after business hours. They also provide options for the busy 21st-century employees, such as telecommuting, child care, and a compressed workweek.

It doesn’t matter how large these companies are, how old they are, or what field they’re in. All these elements add to their employer brand as a destination of choice, building success at attracting, engaging, and retaining top talent. But what if your organization has already received honors as a great workplace or offers unique benefits, but your employees don’t know about them? Our corporate communications experts can help.