A large Milliman client with approximately 30,000 employees operates under a number of distinct brands. The majority of these employees work in the field, spread across the country in numerous regional centers.
The client is committed to a set of core values and a culture of engagement, yet the multiple brands and scattered geography were making it difficult to create a cohesive culture. Despite the organization’s ongoing investment in a solid package of employee programs, services, and opportunities, employees were not understanding and valuing the programs offered—their overall total rewards. In fact, many benefit programs were languishing.
The client approached the firm looking for a solution. The client’s primary goals were to:
• Maximize the return on the considerable investment the organization was making in employee programs and boost awareness of, appreciation for, and participation in key benefit programs.
• Increase employee engagement and, over time, build trust, influence attraction, motivation, and retention efforts, and improve productivity.
To read more about how Milliman helped this organization meets its goals, read Sharon Stocker’s case study.
A targeted approach is the most effective communications strategy an employer can implement to help employees understand their retirement plans. Milliman’s Denise Foster and Genny Sedgwick offer perspective on the benefits such a tailored communications approach can have on plan participants in this Business Insurance article (subscription required).
Here is an excerpt:
Most American workers aren’t saving enough toward retirement because they are struggling financially — often living paycheck to paycheck — and do not have the discretionary cash needed to build a retirement nest egg, experts say.
A good retirement communications and education program recognizes this and offers plan members help with such financial fundamentals as budgeting and saving.
The most effective way to communicate these lessons is with a targeted approach that takes into consideration plan members’ ages and other demographic characteristics. The messaging also should be continuous, occurring throughout the year, experts advise.
…“One of the best approaches is a real targeted one,” said Denise Foster, a principal and communications consultant at Milliman Inc. in Seattle. “It’s a lot about tailoring the message to the particular employee group…”
“In financial services, we use a lot of terms that don’t resonate with participants, and they shut down and stop learning,” said Genny Sedgwick, a principal and practice leader for defined contribution plan record-keeping at Milliman Inc. in Seattle. “People feel like they need to be the expert, and they realize they’re not. At the end of the day, participants just want you to guide them.”
To learn more about effective employer-to-employee communication strategies, read this article by Denise Foster, Sharon Stocker, and Heidi tenBroek.
Denise Foster, Sharon Stocker, and Heidi tenBroek highlight circumstances when their employer-to-employee communication strategies can help prevent misunderstandings.
Here is an excerpt from their article on effective employee communication:
Communicating difficult or sensitive changes
Clients often seek out the experience and expertise of Milliman’s growing communication consulting team when they are making difficult decisions that result in a negative impact (for example, benefits reduction) or that present additional challenges for employees (such as a new tool or system). We help employers explain why they are making changes—without obscuring the truth.
Sharing good news
Effective communication matters even when an employer is improving its benefits package. One client—without our help—introduced an improvement to their benefits plan. Years later, many employees still think negatively about the change because the communication wasn’t clear. Good communication is especially important when there’s a lack of trust—in such an environment, employees are more likely to create their own version of what happened.
When “nothing changes”
Sometimes a client will change medical carriers and the employer wants to say they are not changing the benefits. But different carriers administer plans differently with real-world consequences for employees. We know the questions to ask and can help employers figure out all the smaller but important changes that may affect their employees, or, if those details are unknown, advise them on how to best communicate with employees that there may be some differences between the two plans.
In addition, what may seem like a minor change to an employer can be perceived as a major change by the employee. For instance, when you’re converting a vacation/sick leave program to a PTO program, it’s important to communicate all transition details. Is it clear what’s happening with the sick bank an employee has saved up? In such a situation, it’s best to create a personalized piece: Here’s what you have and where it goes.
To read the entire article, click here.
Communicating is key to the success of any business. This new article by Milliman consultants Denise Foster, Sharon Stocker, and Heidi tenBroek offers employers strategies for sharing important information with employees.
This excerpt outlines five best practices:
1. Plan before you launch. Before you get started, define objectives, identify key stakeholders, and create a strategy and plan of action.
2. Don’t sugarcoat bad news. Employees see through and resent attempts at hiding benefit changes that can be perceived negatively.
3. Stick to your message. Determine key messages at the beginning and communicate them consistently.
4. Make sure the managers and supervisors are on board. This is an underestimated group—they have influence over employees and can be advocates or barriers depending on how you treat them.
5. Rinse and repeat. Reinforce key messages multiple times and across a variety of media in a coordinated way to avoid overwhelming the intended audience. People are affected differently by different formats and messages need time to sink in.