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Creating a Benefits Communication Calendar for Year-Round Engagement

We all start the new year out with the best intentions – drink more water, exercise more and get involved in the community. For those in the benefits profession, it also likely includes a goal around better engaging employees with their benefits package during the relevant moments that make up someone’s life – or what we at Benefitfocus refer to as the moments that matter.

As with any important goal in life, one of the most critical things you can do to set yourself up for success is to start with creating an actual game plan. When you invest the time to start with the end in mind and write out your action items with target dates, it becomes much easier to stay on track when the day-to-day chaos inevitably starts to invade.

There is so much potential in the arena of creating better benefit consumers through increasing our employees’ health literacy and raising their awareness around total rewards, but you cannot do it overnight. That’s why, as I work to create our Benefitfocus Customer #1 benefits engagement calendar, I find it useful to organize my ideas into quarterly themes, monthly focus areas and meaningful communication touchpoints. This structure provides such a great outline when I am trying to engage a multi-generational workforce.

Plus, we all know that benefits are not one-size-fits-all and the same applies to benefits engagement. For each month, I strive to have a variety of communication tactics and different benefit promotions so that every employee has the opportunity to connect with at least one touchpoint.

Here’s the process I work through along with some helpful tips as you embark upon the path of designing your own 2020 year-round benefits engagement calendar.

Quarterly Themes

For quarterly themes, I find it useful to align with our benefit catalog categories of health, wealth and lifestyle, dedicating the final quarter to all three areas for open enrollment. As I designate each quarter to one of the areas of total well-being, I like to incorporate some creativity. As benefits professionals, it’s important to embrace our creative side and find ways to connect with our marketing abilities. Benefits do not have to be boring!

With that in mind, I like to craft a statement or tagline that represents the overall theme. Here are some examples of my quarterly themes and taglines:

  • Q1: Wealth – Kick off the New Year by Planning for the Future Today!
  • Q2: Health – Spring into Action with Your Health & Total Well-Being!
  • Q3: Lifestyle – See Your Year as Half Full & Invest in Yourself Today!
  • Q4: Open Enrollment – Celebrating The Whole YOU!

Monthly Focus Areas and Touchpoints

Many different organizations promote health awareness months and they provide great ideas and resources for communication campaigns. For example, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion offers a National Health Observances Calendar, Healthline offers a Health Awareness Calendar and the Wellness Council of America provides their Annual Welcoa Health Observances.

Those are great resources to get started, but another great practice is to engage with your carriers and benefit vendors to see what monthly campaigns or communication toolkits they have to offer their employer groups.

For me, the most effective approach is to pull from a variety of sources and identify ways to connect the monthly focus areas and awareness communications to the different components of our benefits package. This could include promoting new products we’re launching that quarter or highlighting the advantages of company-sponsored benefits.

Here is an example of how I plan the monthly focus areas and touchpoints:

Remember, the overall objective of designing this year-round engagement calendar is to help employees better understand, utilize and maximize the potential of their benefits package. So, here’s to 2020 planning and better employee engagement across this new year and new decade.

For more insight into open enrollment communications, check out the guide, How to Become an HR Marketect.

About the Author

Misty Guinn is the director of benefits and wellness at Benefitfocus, where she works closely with suppliers and carriers to create and manage innovative health plan designs for associates. She’s dedicated to helping others improve their total well-being through education, relationships and a supportive environment that includes innovative employee benefits strategies and well-being programs that foster foundations of a healthier workforce and community. Misty is a certified worksite wellness specialist with the National Wellness Institute and a Franklin Covey Facilitator in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Prior to Benefitfocus, she worked as the director of benefits and wellness for RHA Health Services, LLC.

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