In a competitive labor market, employers must implement innovative and cost-effective methods if they are to attract and retain qualified people who will have a positive impact on their bottom line.

A national survey conducted by Aon Consulting revealed that the most committed employees are those who believe their employers treat them as people-people with day-to-day life needs.

One way to convey that your company acknowledges "employees as people" is through a "life events" approach to communicating benefits.

What Is A Life Events Approach?

The life events approach can be compared to a map a traveler refers to on a long journey. In life events communication, this map guides the traveler (employee) through benefits and procedural information at various junctions along the way, such as joining the company, getting married, having a baby, or retiring. To develop the "map," identify the life events that are most common information triggers at your company. Then, list the benefits affected and the procedures employees need to follow when they experience an event.

What Is The Advantage?

As employees' lives become more hectic and benefits programs more complex, communicating from a life events perspective makes sense because it gives employees easy access to practical information they need on a day-to-day basis. Life event-based materials enable human resource professionals to answer benefits questions efficiently and consistently. By including life events-based media in your communications toolbox, you can reduce administrative costs, increase employee understanding of benefits and human resources policies and procedures, promote employee self-service, and enhance your company's image as a people-oriented organization.

Why It Works

Life events communication is effective because it directs employees to the relevant information and actions they need to take when they get married, add a dependent, buy a house, undergo surgery, retire, or experience other life situations. During these situations, an employee is most likely to seek benefits information. For example, in a traditional scenario, if an employee gets married he or she will probably call human resources and ask, "How do I get my spouse covered under my insurance?" In this case, the human resources representative and/or the employee will search through a plan-based handbook or a stack of complex booklets and forms for eligibility, enrollment, and coverage information. This hunting and pecking research method is time-consuming, frustrating and often results in misinterpretation and misdirection.

If benefits information is organized by life event, a newly married employee can access a section entitled Marriage in their handbook or enrollment guide. In this section, the employee will find an at-a-glance list of the benefits, programs and services offered through the employer. This section might also include more detail, such as premium rates, relevant policies and procedures, and any actions the employee might need to take. Once you identify which life events are important to include in your communications campaign, it makes sense to incorporate them into your existing media, including:

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