Using Twitter to Gauge Employee Opinion & Provide Insight for Your Enrollment Debriefs
Is enrollment over at your organization? Have you heard what people think about your plan design? How confident were they in their decision-making? If you don’t have a direct dial to your employee population, Twitter has been buzzing with commentary.
Enrollment + Smart People = Exasperation
Lets face it. Enrollment makes smart people feel stupid. You know because you’ve all received calls from your CFO or the head engineer at some point. But, is this really the sentiment you want to inspire, especially now when tough times call for uber productivity? If you needed proof, here is Twitter exasperation:
Your Benefits = Peace of Mind, Protection, Security
But, wait you say…. “What’s all this whining about? Benefits are important!” Of course they are. They offer protection from some ugly scenarios—illnesses that could bankrupt us, disability that robs us of the dignity of work. Fun conversation, eh? It’s not lost on your employees.
Peer Truth = Imperfect Logic
Who do your employees trust about their benefits? It may be the Twitter community. (Gasp!) It’s been documented by Edelman Trust Barometer and behavioral economists that we look to our peers for answers—from our 5th grade math test to our benefits enrollment worksheet. But if you’re not looking over the shoulder of a benefits analyst, are you getting the right answers?
Once you get employees comfortable with the choices they have to make, don’t irritate them with a description of your enrollment system that is too sunny. We’ve never seen an enrollment system with a user interface like Amazon, or iTunes. They’re just not that intuitive. So, save your glowing descriptions for parts of your benefits program that actually are valuable and easy to use. Or else you might hear this:
Hopefully these Tweets don’t represent the silent majority in your company. Yet we all know these voices are representative. And they certainly are heart-felt. How do you take this information and turn it into something positive?
Fresh Ideas for Your Debrief Meetings
As we head into enrollment debrief meetings, recharge your team with a few Twitter-era ideas. Here are practical ways to make the collective mindset of Twitter work for you:
Use your blog to gather feedback and ideas. While these Tweets are likely present in your organization, you won’t know how widespread they are until you ask. While focus groups provide in-depth information about the drivers for certain employee behaviors, sometimes you just want a pulse-check. A benefits blog is a quick and easy way to get frequent information out to your employees and have a constant pulse check on their questions and opinions. (Don’t have a benefits blog yet? Contact us and we’ll get you going in no time!)
Convince your leadership that targeted communication is necessary! If you don’t think leadership would be jazzed by the sentiments expressed above, start educating them. Share this blog post plus witty and disturbing Twitter commentary about benefits. It won’t be long before you hear, “So, how can we turn these attitudes around?” Ah, music.
Make peer truth part of your strategic plan. People trust their neighbors—and they trust them more so than HR. That’s why Consumer Reports, book reviews and Angie’s list work. Why not ask real employees to talk about their experience with your benefit plans—on your blog, your Twitter feed, your website video or in employee meetings?
Start using Twitter to help simplify your benefits communication. It’s a continuous stream of reminders, tips and alerts. If you need help with content, check out Benz Communications’ BenefitsTip. Just re-Tweet the useful tips you’ll find there.
Be honest and comprehensive if you need to announce big benefit changes. If your benefit plans are on the chopping block, counsel your benefits team to go for one big round of changes. Employees get exhausted with the annual drip of negative messages. We’ve all lived through a decade of “health care costs are skyrocketing” messages. No one has the heart for 1) furloughs in January, 2) no bonuses in February, 3) longer hours every month, 4) higher deductibles in August and 5) decreased 401(k) contributions in December. It’s not a recipe for engagement.
Focus on using benefits throughout the year. Just because annual enrollment is over, doesn’t mean your communication should stop. Now is the time to focus on getting employees to use those benefits that they—and your company—spend so much money on. So, get out there with communication that focuses on preventive care, saving for retirement, wellness programs and discounts. The best way to improve perceptions is to get people using the programs. And, that’s the best way to make annual enrollment more successful next year too.