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Compensation & Benefits

Why Benefits Communications are Changing Fast

Teams charged with making sure employees know all about their benefits package are capitalizing on new technology to get their message across; they need to focus on "personalization at scale"

One of the biggest challenges for benefits teams is to help employees understand what’s available to them. This isn’t just a problem of process – getting the right information in the right hands – it can boost corporate performance too, as employees who use their benefits package more fully are more likely to stay in their job, and perform better.

The good news for benefits teams is that there is a wealth of technology available to them. A recent piece in WorldatWork predicts that, among the major rewards trends in the coming year, more employers will use big data to target their benefits communications more accurately.

The problem is that, alongside the proliferation of communication options, there is an increasingly “competitive” communication landscape where employees are receiving more messages from more sources than ever before. So it’s more important than ever for benefits teams to understand how to use the right content and channels to communicate benefits, often with scarce time and money.

Focus on the Human Touch, and Aim for ‘Personalization at Scale’

Based on a CEB survey of over 10,000 employees around the world, the channels that have the greatest positive impact on employees’ perceptions of the company’s “rewards” (a combination of the compensation and benefits offered to an employee) are ones that mimic a human touch (i.e., they feel tailored towards that employee).

The challenge for rewards teams in creating these kinds of personalized communications is that they are often costly and can be easily overdone with no real impact. The way out of this difficulty is to borrow a tactic from marketing teams and aim for “personalization at scale.” For example, teams can often take advantage of channels already present in the firm, which employees already use, and that can be made to feel personal.

Web portals and email present great opportunities to achieve personalization at scale. Benefits web portals are often forgotten by employees, or dismissed as ineffective because they are difficult to navigate, contain large quantities of unnecessary information, and ultimately lack a clear answer to an employees’ question. These shortcomings lead employees to call a benefits associate or a third-party vendor instead; both of which are a non-scalable approach.

Time for a Redesign

Rewards teams can make a portal more relevant at scale (i.e., for large numbers of employees) by redesigning it to reflect how employees search for information. This might involve organizing information to answer the questions employees actually ask about their benefits, deciding on the order to present information based on the frequency at which employees have asked for it in the past, and choosing the information to share about each benefit based on what employees want to know about them.

Adding a new technology or media channel to the communication mix can certainly bring some attention to the benefits on offer, and could be useful if the rewards team feels it’s facing a disengaged consumer audience. In the long term, however benefits teams will need to be selective about the channels they pursue. That way, they can avoid adding to the noisy communication landscape and create an environment in which employees feel confident that they can go out and find the information they need.


More On…

  • Pay Communications

    Learn more about CEB's work on pay and benefits communications.

  • CEB Talent Daily

    This post was originally published on CEB Talent Daily, a provider of daily news and analysis on the world of talent management.

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