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3 reasons 2013 will be THE year for benefits communication

This year, effective benefits communication is key—here’s why This year, effective benefits communication is key—here’s why

"Better budgets and more time spent on strategic planning and better integration with overall goals are critical to engaging employees and maximizing the huge investment companies make in benefits," Benz says. "Below are three compelling reasons why 2013 will be the year benefits communication gets the recognition it deserves."

1. HR strategy will require it 1. HR strategy will require it

According to Mercer, there are five major priorities for employer-sponsored health plans this year—all of which require robust and ongoing demands communication. Health care benefits are not just about getting people insured, Benz notes; they are about motivating, providing incentives and reinforcing the structure that will help create the radical behavior change needed to solve our country's health issues.

2. Workers will demand it 2. Workers will demand it

According to Benz Communications' Inside Benefits Communication survey, only 38% of employers provide benefits information outside their firewall on the Internet; just 29% communicate with employees year round; and only 10% use social media for benefits communication. "Employees deserve better,” Benz says, adding that “if they haven't already, this will be the year they start demanding it."

3. The C-suite will (hopefully) understand that they need it 3. The C-suite will (hopefully) understand that they need it

More than two-thirds of companies (68%) are getting by on communication budgets of less than $25,000 a year. Given the power of benefits communication to significantly impact employee health and financial security -- at a time when it's so desperately needed -- 2013 is the year to ramp up the budget and ask for more resources. Benz notes that an investment of less than 1% of total benefits spend can have a huge impact on communication efforts. When C-suite executives ask for proof of ROI or help making health care expenses more predictable, tell them education and communication are crucial to those goals, Benz says.

Benefits communication rarely gets the credit, attention, budget or planning it deserves, according to Benz Communications, despite well-documented empirical evidence of its impact and recognized thought leaders advocating for more meaningful investment. "While communication is now a key part of some employers' overall HR strategy, for many [HR/benefits practitioners], the battle [to integrate communication effectively is] a rite of passage that never seems to end," says founder and chief strategist Jennifer Benz.

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