6 Tips for communicating benefits to millennials

Your employees in their twenties and early thirties are the new workforce majority (!)—and if you want them to give a hoot about your benefits messaging, now’s the time to add to your bag of tricks. Curious where to start? Worried you don’t have the time, innate creativity, or budget to make changes in 2017? Download this free eBook and get 6 tips for engaging your millennial employees.

Tip #1: Go big on digital. As you probably know already, Millennials are uniquely web-savvy humans. They came of age in the era of Facebook, and the youngest of them have never known a world without the Internet. So it follows that if you make more resources available—and more tasks doable—online, you boost your chances of getting younger workers to perk up and take action. Specifically, here are some steps to consider:

Migrate your enrollment process online if you haven’t already According to the 2015 Aflac Workforces Report, 62% of employees say they enrolled in their benefits online—up from only 45% in 2013. If your company is one of the thousands that hasn’t taken this process online yet, seriously consider making the leap this year.

Consider phasing out most—if not all— informational print materials Instead of mailing a benefits handbook and a bunch of forms to your lovely workforce, why not just email them the PDFs (and make the forms signable with digital signatures)? Not only will you save some trees, your employees will always be able to search for that information in their inbox archives. (Note that we’re not advising you phase out non-digital stuff like posters, standees, table tents, and reminder postcards sent to the home. Hard-copy promotional stuff still deserves a place in your get-the-word-out rotation.)

Promote and archive relevant stuff on your company intranet To prevent confusion about where to find what, make as much of your benefits info available in one place on your company’s intranet. Bonus tip: provide a link to that database every time you send any email so folks never have to search for it.

Tip#2: Personalize and humanize your communications. Millennials enjoy online consumer experiences that acknowledge them as individuals. (Thanks, internet cookies!) So as you create benefits communications, look for ways to personalize and humanize content whenever possible.

Address your audience directly with the word “you” “You” truly is a powerful word. When we read it or hear it, we perk up and think “Hey, they’re talking to me!” And we’re more likely to keep paying attention. So instead of talking about your employees in the third person— as if they were some faceless group “out there”— address them directly, keeping in mind that your message is being read one person at a time.

In selected communications, use a person’s first name (if possible) Does your team use postcards or brochures to remind people to, say, enroll in their benefits, or review their 401(k)? Ask your vendor if they can use a mail merge function to include the first name of your employees, nice and big, as a salutation. (As in: Hi, Charlie!) That first name, plus your company logo, prominently placed, will help ensure that your message gets read.

Ask employees to provide testimonials about your benefits programs Nothing will convince wary employees to take a new benefits offering seriously more than hearing (and seeing) some of their peers vouch for it. So consider reaching out to the employees who take advantage of the tools you’d like more engagement with. Ask if they might answer a few questions on camera or simply lend their name to a quote about what they love about program X, Y, or Z. If you make a video, send a link to it in an email and have it live permanently on your intranet.

Consider technologies that create a one-on-one, interactive feeling Especially if you work for a company with thousands of employees, there’s no way you could provide one-on-one advice if everyone asked for it. So seek out interactive benefits tools that can help provide that one-on-one feeling.

Tip#3: Share FAQs and glossaries. Your Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have been through a ton of open enrollments, and most are acquainted with the ins and outs of their 401(k)s. However, many of your Millennial employees, especially recent college graduates who might have been on their parents’ plan until they were 26, might feel more lost than you know.

Tip#4: Be brief and entertaining. According to a joint 2014 study by Yahoo, Tumblr, Razorfish and Digitas, Millennials favor brands that showcase that brand’s “personality”; favor content with an emotional payout; and are most likely to be receptive to social media content that is brief and entertaining.

Add a dose of humor or personality We’re not talking wacky or groan-worthy Dad-jokes. Just try to bring a touch of your personality into the materials you share. For example: Add a light moment in the introduction paragraph, as you tee up the meat-and-potatoes info you want to get across. Incorporate a fun, surprising image into your get-theword-out posters and postcards. Keep an eye out for business communications YOU find engaging, but not inappropriate, and follow their lead. (To learn how to add personality to your communcations without crossing a line, check out our eBook 5 Tips for Using Humor in Benefits Communication.)

Consider asking the creatives at your company to weigh in—or hire a freelancer Engaging communication just not your bag? Wish you could just have someone else do it? Consider asking the content producers at your company to do a quick review and/or hiring a freelance writer and designer to give your most important communications maximum clarity and punch.

Avoid jargon like the plague Need to explain something sort of complicated about your company’s benefits in an email? Don’t just recycle the language your insurance company uses. Do your very best to translate any and all legalese or jargon into language you’d use when explaining something to a friend.  Not great: “Beyond the basic benefit, both individual and spouse buy-up options are available.” Way better: “The company is going to buy some life insurance for you. If you want, you can buy extra for you and your partner.”

Tip#5: Be strategic about visual content. Millennials are visual learners who love themselves some Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube; they’re also used to reading content on white space and image-heavy webpages. So as you create communications big and small, make a point to think in terms of visuals as much as you think about text.

Lay out content so it’s easily scannable Avoid big, long paragraphs. When you’re dealing with longer-form content, include headlines that provide a quick capsule of the content of each section. When you’re dealing with shorter liststyle content, consider using bulletpoints.

Consider making occasional video content If you want to show employees how to do some tricky online benefits task, consider the power of making a short, engaging how-to video. If you’re considering the latter, below are two software options you might consider downloading for free to help you record audio and video of your screen in a snap.

Add the occasional GIF to lighter benefits emails and PowerPoints We don’t know about your office, but here at Jellyvision (which is thick with Millennials, by the way), we love adding GIFs to our emails, Slack messages, and intra-office PowerPoint presentations as a way of making straightforward and dry information feel more fun.

Tip# 6: Don’t be afraid to talk savings. Millennials as a generation are both saddled with a ton of long-term debt and doing a pretty good job of saving money for the future. What does this mean for you?

If you’re trying to motivate your employees to make benefits decisions (or just use certain benefits resources you offer) that might save them money, don’t be embarrassed to talk about those potential savings loudly and often. Millennials care about the bottom line as much as anybody.

Employees born between 1982 and 1998 are the new majority workforce demographic—and if you want to really engage them, it’s worth adding to your bag of tricks. Some changes (like adding online technologies) will require spending a little money—no getting around that. But even if you don’t have room in the budget for that this year, simply adjusting the style of your existing communications (being more conversational, using GIFs and videos, talking about money without hesitation) is a big step in the right direction.

For some addition ideas or with for help implementing these to your Open Enrollment call Premier Insurance.

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