San Francisco, CA – Increasingly HR and benefits managers are turning to social media to enhance their benefits communications. Yet, despite social media’s ease of use and popularity with employees across multiple generations, some companies have yet to use any of the various social media tools available. According to Jennifer Benz, companies that aren’t using social media are missing out on an easy and free way to communicate with employees throughout the year. Jen is founder and chief strategist of Benz Communications, a leading HR and benefits communication strategy boutique.
“Reminding employees about benefits once a year is not enough to get them actively engaged in decisions about their health and financial wellbeing. The key to capturing employees’ attention is feeding them bite-sized chunks of information year round. Social media is the perfect tool for simple, ongoing, two-way communication,” said Jen.
Following are Benz Communications’ picks of the five best social media tools for employee benefits communication.
Blogs are a simple and easy way to create web content and self-publish. They also give readers the opportunity to respond quickly and have a dialog with the author. Consider adding a blog to your benefits website or intranet and use it to post reminders, new features and articles. Think of the blog as a tool for posting tips to help employees get the most from their benefits. Ask employees for questions and comments to get real-time feedback whenever you post new content—be sure to reply.
To ensure success: set a realistic schedule and stick to it; make sure all posts contain actionable information—both what to do and how to do it. And, calm any concerns about negative or inaccurate comments by “moderating” your blog (no comments are posted until reviewed).
Twitter, Yammer and others are examples of “microblogs.” Microblogs like Twitter let you post short updates at will—both pre-scheduled and ad hoc—and enable more interactivity than a traditional blog. Pull your Twitter feed into your benefits website or intranet for a free and easy way to keep those sites fresh. Not sure how to get started with your Twitter stream? You can find content and ideas at twitter.com/BenefitsTip, Benz Communications’ stream of benefits content that can be easily re-tweeted, copied or re-purposed for your own tweets.
To ensure success, schedule a handful of Tweets each week to keep to a consistent schedule. Be sure to educate less savvy employees about what you’ll be using and how, and how they can receive content and interact with you.
3. Podcasts and videos
These are online, downloadable audio and video clips that can be played on employees’ computers or mobile devices. Consider these uses:
§ A short video of your CEO or leadership speaking about your new wellness program or upcoming change to benefits.
§ Video podcasts of enrollment meetings and new hire orientations; these are especially helpful for remote employees who may not have the opportunity to attend in-person meetings.
§ A series on 401(k) basics; pair with an online forum for employee questions.
§ A contest for the best two-minute employee-created video about a key topic, such as health care, wellness, 401(k) investing, et al; hearing messages from their colleagues encourages employees to act.
Interviews with benefits team members and brief explanations of benefits offerings are good ways to get started. Talk to your marketing group; you may have internal resources who can help you produce the podcasts and videos, and keep them aligned with your company’s brand.
4. Social Networks
Facebook, LinkedIn and many other social networks connect individuals around interests and activities. Whether personal or professional, these networks are incredibly powerful tools for distributing information and ideas. Some suggestions for employee communication are:
§ Build an internal social network (or use your intranet) to connect employees interested in similar wellness topics.
§ Create a Facebook page for your wellness program (you can integrate it with your blog and/or Twitter feed)—especially if you’re offering a lot of online classes or events; share frequent updates and information, and get families to join.
An additional tip: Look for wellness providers with social networking tools built into their program; peer influence and support boost engagement and achievement.
5. User forums
User forums are moderated online discussions focused around a specific topic. You can use these to encourage employees (and your benefits team) to swap ideas and answer each other’s questions about how to get the most from your programs. Structure your forum by benefit plan so information is easy to find. Two things to keep in mind: User forums are likely to be most effective at organizations that use online discussions for other topics; make sure this tool is a good fit for your organization. And, as they can take on a life of their own, user forums require more monitoring than some other channels.
“Ready to take your employee benefits communication to the next level? Using social media is a super flexible, easy—and free!—way to power your benefits communications and get your employees engaged in the practice of good self care,” Jen concluded.
About Benz Communications
Benz Communications is a benefits communication strategy boutique creating integrated employee benefits campaigns for employers committed to nurturing high-performing and satisfied employees. Benz Communications’ clients include Fortune 500 companies and Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. They have also created a group of innovative toolkits and products to help small and mid-size companies educate employees about health and financial benefits. Additional information about Benz Communications may be found at www.benzcommunications.com.