How Will Benefits Communications Develop in 2017?

How Will Benefits Communications Develop in 2017?

Lenny Sanicola at WorldatWork predicts that among the major rewards trends in the coming year, more employers will be using big data to target their benefits communications:

In order to further engage employees in their benefits and drive certain behaviors, both the approach to messaging and delivery will continue to evolve. We will see more employee segmentation with the goal of creating more targeted, personalized messaging that is delivered among a variety of social media platforms. Some companies are leveraging interactive communications and incorporating gamification elements to enhance messaging and drive engagement. Others are exploring the use of data mining and analytics to create relative and timely targeted messages to employees and family members.

Indeed, benefits communicators are presented with an ever-growing mix of communication options, as well as an increasingly “competitive” communication landscape in which employees are receiving more messages from more sources than ever before. Benefits teams then face important questions about how to use the right content and channels to communicate benefits, often with scarce time and money.

This year, the CEB Total Rewards Leadership Council surveyed over 10,000 employees globally to identify which of the many options employees are most responsive to—that is, which options have the greatest positive impact on their perceptions of rewards—and found that channels that mimic a “human touch” are the most effective.

The challenge for organizations is that delivering personalized communications can be costly and easily overdone with no real impact. The key to managing this challenge with a tight budget is personalization at scale: Organizations can often take advantage of channels already present in the organization, which employees already use, and that can be made to feel personal.

Web portals and email present great opportunities for organizations to achieve personalization at scale. Benefits web portals are often forgotten by employees, or dismissed as ineffective, as a result of feeling difficult to navigate, containing large quantities of unnecessary information, and ultimately lacking a clear answer to an employees’ question. These shortcomings lead employees to call a benefits associate or vendor instead: a non-scalable approach.

Organizations can reintroduce relevance to a portal, at scale, by redesigning the portal to reflect how employees search for information. This might take the form of organizing information so as 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 your communication mix can certainly bring some excitement and attention to benefits, if your organization is facing a disengaged consumer audience. In the long term, 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.

CEB Total Rewards Leadership Council members can read our full study on achieving personalization at scale here.