Talkin’ ’Bout My Generation: Know Your Audience

44%

of employees want clear communications and simple explanations


50%

employees would like personal guidance in improving their benefits understanding


You probably wouldn’t send a Slack message to promote a health plan’s maternity program to a 65-year old male truck driver on the verge of retirement.

And you probably wouldn’t invite 23-year old new hire working from home to an in-office presentation on retirement planning. Yet employers continue to send out broad-based, generic communications about benefits using the same old communications channels once or twice a year—and hope for the best.

Each of us has our own

    • Priorities, determined by family make up, health, financial situation and career stage
    • Level of understanding of benefits
    • Communications preferences
    • Attention span
    • Attitude towards our employer and/or benefits package

As a result, if employers truly want their employees to receive, process and act on their benefits messaging, they’ll need a communications strategy that leverages different channels to reach specific audiences, and that targets each message to the needs, interests and health literacy of those audiences.

And, it’s important to remember that those needs, interests and priorities may differ over the course of the year for any one individual. For example, “push” messages from an employer may be triggered by a deadline, life event, regulation, external event (such as COVID) or an employee’s location. But any given employee may want to “pull” down specific information over the course of the year when they need it—for example, when they need to fill a prescription, are planning an outpatient procedure, or want information about vaccines.

So What Does This All Mean?

Employers need a strategy to track how to communicate with each reasonable subset of their workforce—and need help determining what those subsets should be.

That strategy needs to capture:

    • General messages vs. targeted messages
    • Demographics drive decisions—channels, timing, messaging
    • Cut audience by work site, generation, family status, health status, age, race (health concerns, language barriers)

How Can You Help?

First, help your clients determine which demographic groups are the most important. This will likely involve obtaining and analyzing data from multiple vendors to examine health status and plan utilization, and reviewing which groups seem to be struggling with understanding their benefits or using their plan (obtaining feedback from call centers or anecdotal information from HR/benefits team). Work with your clients to determine which behaviors they want to encourage (or discourage), which will help craft your messaging. As noted, your messaging strategy should balance push (general info re enrollment, specific programs, deadlines) and pull (benefit hubs, advocates and educators) channels and messages. Finally, consider bringing in additional resources and partners to flesh out your strategy, implement your communications plan and even serve as a channel for your messaging.

The Bottom Line

One size most definitely does not fit all. American consumers have come to expect customization in everything from the features on their phones to their coffee orders, and they expect the same flexibility when it comes to communications. We want what we want when we want it!

That said, remember personal attention is always well received—regardless of demographic. Being able to speak to someone “live” makes employees feel valued and that their unique needs are being addressed.

Because everyone is different, your messaging must be targeted to their individual needs. Here are some tips to help you and your client who needs to hear what, when—and how.

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