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Inspiration + Insights • Gradifi

To Encourage Employees to Use Benefits, Think Like a Marketer

By Stephanie Taylor Christensen | 3-min read

You invest time, energy and resources to design benefits offerings that will appeal to your employees and support their lives—but that doesn’t mean they’ll be motivated to take advantage of them. Despite your official role as a human resources professional, educating and inspiring employees to take advantage of the voluntary benefits package you’ve designed may require that you put their needs front and center, and approach them in a new way.

Here are some tips to not only tell but sell your employees on all the advantages your voluntary benefits have to offer.

Experiment with visual structure and presentation

Your voluntary benefits may be carefully structured to address your employees’ most pressing needs, but unless you deliver the details of them in a way that compels them to believe they can add value to their lives, your messages may fall on deaf ears. Consider how to present information about your various voluntary benefits in a way that is visually appealing, relevant to employees’ top concerns, and easy to read, scan and understand. Tactics like infographics, short videos, animated explainers and a series of short and visually-driven social media posts can all be effective ways to communicate “why” an employee should care about the voluntary benefit enough to explore the “how” (the details of the benefit).

An inverted pyramid structure can be another impactful way to craft your messages. At the top of the pyramid, communicate the “big picture” (why the benefit can enhance their life). The middle of the pyramid can communicate more details about what the benefit costs, and how they can use it. The end of the message could explain how to sign up for the benefit, or where the can go to learn more. Done correctly, you’ll have convinced the reader about the benefits they’ll experience before they get to the bottom of the pyramid.

Incorporate persuasive words

Marketing copywriting relies on persuasive language to convince the audience to try or buy a new product or service. A similar approach in your employee communications may increase the level of employee interest and engagement for your voluntary benefits. An analysis by Sumo revealed that the eight persuasive words below are most impactful when the goal is to “sell” or convince a person to take action, and why they’re effective:

    • New: People are drawn to the novelty of something different.
    • Free: People like the idea of getting something for nothing.
    • Because: In one study, people were 93% more willing to comply when “because” was used to further explain something.
    • You: People like to think or talk about themselves
    • Now: Conveys a sense of urgency.
    • Imagine: Invites the reader to envision how life could be better.
    • Instantly: Promises immediate gratification.

Make it about them

Unless you explicitly state the “what’s in it for me” benefit behind your voluntary benefits, employees may not know. To capture your employee’s attention, you’ll need to address their needs, wants and desires before you explain how or why any voluntary benefit is the solution. Consider these tactics to make your employees the star of your employee benefits communications:

  • Tell a story. Explain the concerns, challenges, and goals a person (real or hypothetical) who shares a similar reality to your employees once faced, and demonstrate how the voluntary benefit led to an improvement in the person’s situation. If your CEO was strapped with student loan debt and now feels strongly about helping other employees find a way out of it sooner, for example, share those tales to establish common ground and further explain to employees why specific benefits related to managing student loan debt are offered.  
  • Lead with a question.  Draw employees into voluntary benefits communications by leading with a question to which they can relate. For example, “How would you feel if there was a way to pay off your student loan debt five years faster than you think is possible?”
  • Explain that the benefits are designed for them. Cite details of research you conducted with your employees to select each unique benefit to communicate that your package was designed around their needs.

For organizations who typically present benefits in an employee packet or hold webinars and similar events that address employee benefits, these tools can also be used to supplement those materials, as well as to increase interest and engagement in existing benefits communications.

Use social proof

Have you received feedback from employees who have experienced financial gain, reduced stress, or an improved sense of financial literacy or control from using your voluntary benefits? Ask those employees to write a few sentences describing their positive experience, along with tips they would offer to others who are considering doing the same. Internal social media tools like Yammer or employee intranets can be a simple and effective way to communicate these testimonials and can facilitate interaction between employees who want to learn more.

Voluntary benefits can be a valuable tool for recruitment and retention, but they may require that you think like a marketer to ensure you capture employee interest to the extent that they want to participate in these programs. Use these tips to better communicate why your employees should consider and care about the voluntary benefits packages you’ve designed for them.