How to Best Reach a Digital-Savvy Workforce
According to a recent Gallup poll, little progress is being made by U.S. companies hoping to improve employee engagement levels. In 2015, 32 percent of employees were classified as “engaged,” based on a number of measures such as believing their opinions count at work and having the opportunity to do what they do best every day. This figure represents only a 0.5 percent increase over 2014.
The majority of workers, 50.8 percent, were classified as “not engaged,” while an alarming 17.2 percent were classified as “actively disengaged.”
Why Engagement Matters
These statistics are both troubling and frustrating for HR managers trying to attract and retain top talent. Poor employee engagement leads to poor job performance and high turnover rates. Another Gallup poll suggests that disengaged employees are also more likely to suffer from health problems, driving the cost of employee benefits higher in the long run.
Employee Benefits Make an Impact
According to MetLife’s 13th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, there is a strong correlation between satisfaction with employee benefits and overall job satisfaction among U.S. workers. The study reports that in 2014, employees who were very satisfied with their benefits package were almost four times more likely to be satisfied with their jobs than those who were not happy with their benefits.
Benefits Communication Impacts Satisfaction
These statistics underscore the significant role effective employee benefits communication must play in overall employee satisfaction. If your employees are not fully educated regarding their benefit options, it is considerably less likely that they will be satisfied with them.
While budgetary constraints may make it difficult to increase employee benefits offerings, you can still increase employee engagement levels by adequately communicating the value of the benefits you currently offer.
The Digital Transformation
As in most other areas of life, employee benefits communication is being transformed by advancing digital technologies. Today’s workforce is no longer desk-bound and paper-driven. Whereas the gold standard for benefits communication in the past may have been a thick explanation-of-benefits booklet, that is no longer necessarily the best way to reach a digital-savvy workforce.
Just as commerce has been forever changed by technological advances that allow consumers to instantly research and compare a variety of products via mobile devices, new HR technologies must provide an experience that matches employee expectations.
The Prevalence of Technology Ownership
Before dismissing the advantages of using new technology in employee communication, consider this: according to an October of 2014 study by Pew, 64 percent of Americans have a smartphone, and that number is steadily growing.
As smartphone adoption increases, people become increasingly familiar with and dependent upon their devices to do research, engage with friends and family, and now engage with employers as well.
It can no longer be assumed that this trend only affects millennials in the workplace. While millennials may be the most familiar with such technologies, older workers are becoming increasingly tech-savvy as well.
Smartphone adoption is also spreading among a culturally diverse workforce, with 49 percent of Hispanics reporting smartphone ownership. Pew Research reports that, among Hispanic households with annual incomes of over $50,000 per year, 76 percent report owning a smartphone.
Using Technology to Reach the Digital-Savvy Workforce
All of these statistics illustrate that the time for leveraging technology to improve employee benefit communications has come. How can you best reach a digital-savvy workforce?
Here are some ways to engage employees through better use of technology:
1) Use video.
Employees of all generations are comfortable with the use of video to impart important benefits information. Trigger short announcement videos to play when employees log into your portal. Use short webinars to dispense important information in small bursts.
2) Use impactful emails.
Keep emails short and to the point. Do not include lengthy attachments, as your workforce is likely to be checking email on a mobile device. Time emails at appropriate intervals to reduce the possibility that workers will simply trash them without opening them.
3) Use text messaging for short information bursts.
While there has been considerable worry in the past about compliance issues with text messaging, technologies now exist to enable secure text messaging that meets compliance standards. Secure text messaging is in its infancy, but it promises much in the way of effective employee benefits communication in the near future.
4) Include modeling technology.
One of the most popular tools with employees is modeling technology, which enables the employee to see exactly how different benefit choices will impact his or her paycheck. Providing modeling tools and easy-to-follow checklists that the employee can try out at home with a spouse is an excellent way to provide education about benefits options.
An Integrated Approach
To truly engage your workforce, you must communicate with them in the manner and method that will resonate most strongly with them. Today, that includes not only the paper methods of the past, but also digital communication.
The prevalence of smartphone ownership means that your workforce is increasingly mobile-centric. Let this knowledge inform your communication strategies and bolster your efforts to attract, engage, and retain good employees.
If you would welcome more information about the use of technology in benefit communications, please contact us today. As specialists in the field of employee benefits, we can help you find the solutions that work best for your employees and your company as a whole.