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Open-Enrollment Communication Goes Social
Mobile devices and social media are impacting open enrollment

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By Vlad Gyster

There are three important trends affecting how employees consume information, and employers would be wise to keep them in mind during open-enrollment season.

1. Go mobile or go home.

More than 56 percent of American adults now own a smartphone, and a third use tablets. Research shows that these technologies are fast becoming Americans’ primary content-consumption vehicles.

It’s not hard to see that employers who aren’t adapting their communications for mobile devices can expect lower participation rates and higher incentive costs. Fifty-five percent of companies offer their employees a financial incentive for completing a health risk assessment online; every additional hurdle decreases participation.

Tech challenges that companies face when "going mobile" can be addressed with responsive web design, which enables websites to automatically scale to any device and provide an optimal user experience.

2. Social networks are content filters.

Junk mail now makes up 58.3 percent of the average inbox. People are tuning out traditional channels like e-mail. Employers need to embrace the use of news aggregating mediums to capture employees’ attention.

To overcome the clutter, HR professionals should create Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts—such as “@CompanyNameBenefits”—and use them to signal employees about the location of pertinent content. Don’t be afraid to include in-depth, lengthy content. Just be sure it’s well-written and relevant.

3. Who wants what and how.

Most employers don’t know who watched a video that cost $5,000 to produce or who read that $15,000 print newsletter. HR professionals can’t solve the problem of how best to engage employees without knowing if their communications outlay is having an impact.

Today, marketers use technology that lets them know when a potential customer has opened an e-mail, visited a website or replied to a survey. They can track who buys something and determine which marketing strategies achieve optimal return on investment (ROI).

A simple way for HR professionals to begin analyzing the ROI of their communications is by incorporating encoded links into their employee e-mails using Google’s link-shortening tool. Knowing how many employees clicked on the links can help determine both readership and interest.

Cash-strapped and time-crunched HR professionals need all the help they can get. While the rapid evolution of technology is setting a furious pace for change, it’s also quickly reducing communication costs to help employers achieve much better results for less money.

Vlad Gyster is the founder and CEO of H.Engage, a firm that develops tools to help employers craft communications deliverable to any device.

Related SHRM Articles:

What to Tell Workers During Open Enrollment, SHRM Online Benefits, September 2013

Communicating Health Care Reform to Plugged-in Employees, SHRM Online Benefits, September 2013

More Health Plan Communications Go Digital, SHRM Online Benefits, October 2012

Quick Links:

SHRM Online Benefits page

SHRM Online Health Care Reform Resource Page

SHRM Online Wellness Programs Resource Page

SHRM Online Retirement Plans Resource Page

SHRM Online Outsourcing Resource Page

SHRM Online Workplace Flexibility Resource Page

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