The way your organization has previously communicated with employees may have been sufficient up until recently. With most employees in the office at least most of the time, it was easy to get by with even an outdated method of communication. Paperwork could be completed manually, questions could be asked in person, and positive outcomes could be achieved with little to no help from technology.
But with the way COVID-19 has completely changed the landscape of how we work, your old communication strategy might not hold up. Majority of businesses are operating mostly or completely remotely right now -- and that does not look to be changing in the near future. One professional workplace analytics company predicts that 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
With this in mind, businesses have no choice but to modernize communications with technology if they want to see positive outcomes in 2020.
Here’s what your organization can do to make that happen:
Identify the most important programs and information to be shared
It’s more important than ever to keep your employees updated, not only on things happening within the company, but on things that can indirectly impact their work as well. Create a set plan for disseminating CDC/WHO updates to keep employees informed about the COVID-19 crisis, as well as updates to legislation like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Identify what technologies to utilize based on your employees
More important than what you include in your communication plan is how you plan on communicating it. The trick here is to understand your individual workforce and how they engage with different platforms. Here’s how to best reach the major generations that comprise today’s workforce and key insights into what technologies they are most comfortable with:
- Generation Z
This generation, born after 1997, has spent most of their lives in front of screens. Surprisingly though, they value in-person interaction in the workplace more than technology based. They typically seek out verbal communication in the workplace while craving transparency and honesty. Here are the tools to best reach your Gen Z employees:
- Video calls for open conversation and webinars
- 1:1 phone calls for specific questions
- Mobile messaging apps for items that require follow-up notifications
- Text messages for brief communication that do not require a response
Like Generation Z, millennials spend a lot of time interacting with technology. But unlike Gen Z, millennials do not prefer in-person interaction; they prefer to be reached on their devices. Although they like to stay connected, they prefer their communication to be brief and meaningful. While they don’t want to be inundated with messages, they do want information available to them when it fits their schedule. With that said, here are the best methods to communicate with millennials:
- Text messages for brief communication
- Push notifications from your HR mobile app
- Skype/Slack/Teams forums for posting summaries of benefits programs
- Pre-recorded webinars for watching on-demand
- Social media for additional updates and resources
- Generation X
Since Generation X were the early adopters of emails, it remains their communication method of choice. They value simple and effective communication methods like email, bridging the gap between younger and older employees. This puts them in a great place to be communication champions, since they succeed at roles that require universal communication or understanding. Besides email, Gen Xers will also respond well to social media posts.
- Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers are likely to face the biggest challenges when it comes to the remote communication transition. Having lived and worked without digital connection, they tend to prefer phone calls and in-person meetings. However, they have grown comfortable with email and engage with it frequently. Between email and group conference calls, you should be able to meaningfully engage with your Baby Boomer employees.
Create a timeline
Allow yourself plenty of time to communicate by creating a timeline. If you wait until right before open enrollment to begin communicating, you’ll either be too late or you’ll overwhelm your employees with too much information at once. Your timeline should focus on one main topic at a time, scheduling out what information will be shared and with what tools. A sample timeline would look something like this, with dates assigned to each item:
Use software to streamline benefits administration.
As time goes on, it’s becoming more and more clear that the coronavirus is an ongoing situation with long-term impacts, some of which are not even known to us yet. With that being said, it’s almost guaranteed that your company’s onboarding and open enrollment will be greatly impacted this year. With many companies remaining remote for longer periods of time than anticipated and almost all employees facing some sort of major life during this time, benefits are an even more important part of the employee experience than they already were.
But, without the ability to discuss benefit needs in person and assist in the enrollment/renewal process, employers need to turn to technology to help them create the best possible outcomes. Here are some features of a good benefits administration platform that can help improve communication and lead to better 2020 outcomes:
- Dedicated service to keep things running smoothly at all times.
- Built-in compliance checking so you can worry about taking care of your people, not meeting regulations.
- Reporting features to best understand how employees are interacting with your platform and engaging in your benefits.
- Cloud-based solutions for 24/7 access from anywhere.
A benefits administration platform will help your employees understand what their options are and which would be best for their current situation. Since the COVID-19 crisis has made everyone’s situations so volatile, it’s important to have an “always on” solution that provides resources and assistance whenever it’s needed.
To have the best possible outcomes this year, communication will be key. But that doesn’t mean you have to handle it all on your own -- with the right technology, and help from the experts at Clarity Benefit Solutions, you’ll be able to successfully navigate the remote work territory.