If you’re pushing out the same generic employee benefits messages to everyone in your organization, chances are you’re not making it easy for your employees to understand and use their benefits. It could be time to pivot — and push out more personalized communication.

Personalized benefits communication is the new employee experience benchmark. Consumers today expect a hyper-personalized experience and so do employees. Key findings from a Great Places to Work Institute survey suggest employee expectations go beyond medical, dental and vision. They want useful benefits and resources to help manage their health, wellbeing and lifestyle needs all year long.

What’s more, employees want to feel heard, understood and supported. They want relevant, empathetic content at the right time and on their preferred platform. A Harvard Business Review study commissioned by League, identified “lack of personalization” as one of the top reasons employees so often fail to engage with their health benefits.

To be clear, personalization doesn’t mean adding “Hello, [employee name]” to your communication. Personalization involves crafting messages that resonate with employees on a deep level. It’s helping them connect the dots between the value of their benefits and their unique needs. And it’s not as difficult as it sounds.

Here are four pro tips to build and maintain a framework for delivering meaningful, engaging communication employees will appreciate.

1. Know your employees.

Best practices in copywriting psychology tell us that knowing your target audience is a crucial first step in delivering communication that packs a punch. Armed with some demographic and personal preference data, you can elevate your benefits communication so that employees are inspired to use their benefits, rather than ignore them.

Try these tactics to get to know your employees:

  • Let your data do the talking. Use existing employee data as a starting point to identify your company’s demographics. Take note of commonalities like age, gender, location, job duties and tenure.
  • Go straight to the source. Survey your employees. Gather information about their schedules, work environment and communication preferences. Include questions that reveal their values, interests, motivators and stressors. Combine the survey findings with your demographic info and watch your workforce personality unfold. You’ll see patterns and unique segments of your employee audience emerge.
  • Create personas. With an understanding of the distinct employee segments in your company, develop a persona for each. Personas are fictional characters representing a segment of your employee audience. With these personas handy, you can more easily prepare communication that mean something to your target audiences.

2. Divide and “couture.”

For ages, marketers have used segmenting to target their messages to specific audiences for the highest ROI. If you’re not already segmenting your benefit communication to fit your employee audience, it’s time to start.

According to HubSpot, two of the most effective strategies for email marketers are segmentation (78%) and personalization (72%). A report by Litmus on the 2023 state of email reveals that personalizing messages with dynamic content is the top tactic used by email marketers, and the best way to improve email performance. Consumers want to feel like brands know who they are and what matters to them.

The same is true for employees. Benefits are highly personal. Employees want to hear about benefits that are important to them. Tweaking your messages to fit your employee segments will address their unique needs in thoughtful and unexpected ways. That small level of personalization goes a long way toward fostering meaningful, authentic employee engagement — and making your company a great place to work.

3. Talk to me.

Conversational communication is the art of speaking plainly. Forget jargon, acronyms and formal language. Make sure your communication messages are written in a tone that’s easygoing, memorable and clear. People like to hear from humans, not robots.

Use these tips to script your messaging:

  • Keep it simple. Use language that’s streamlined and succinct. Make sure your messages are credible, inspiring and tell a coherent story. According to copywriting psychology, the easier something is to read, the truer we perceive it to be.
  • Make it purposeful. Think about how you would communicate the information to each specific employee group in person. Ask yourself questions like, “Why is this communication necessary? What does this communication aim to change? Why is it important?”
  • Be authentic. To connect with your employees, your communication should be as truthful and transparent as possible. Let some personality shine through. It should build trust and strengthen the bond between your employees and the organization.
  • Stay casual. Conversational writing feels like a face-to-face conversation between two people. It’s relaxed, meaningful and relevant. Informal writing flows better, making it easier for readers to understand and value the messages.

4. Get creative with communication channels.

Not everyone consumes information the same way, so break free from your “same old, same old.” Besides, nearly all messages benefit from reinforcement when they’re delivered on multiple channels. So add some flexibility to your internal communication. Here are a few ideas:

  • Videos. Most people (65%) are visual learners. Additionally, the human brain processes images at least six times faster than words. So consider more videos in your communication mix. They don’t have to be long. As the TikTok craze has shown, people are captivated by short-form video content. It’s quick, easy and engaging. Also worth mentioning for their visual appeal are GIFs, memes, infographics, charts, illustrations and visual slide decks.
  • Podcasts. Pew research reports that about half of Americans have listened to a podcast in the past year, and one in five of those listeners say they listen to a podcast nearly every day. It’s no surprise. Podcasts are a great way to deliver messages (think complex benefits details) with friendly, engaging banter. And although podcasts appeal to young and old alike, the research suggests younger listeners tend to listen to podcasts more frequently than an older audience.
  • Texts. These short messages can reach employees quickly and point them to more detailed information. They’re especially helpful for employees on the road, in the field or on the production floor. Podcasts work with these employees, too.
  • Electronic banners. Timely benefits messages that are short, impactful and memorable let employees know you’re thinking about them and their benefit needs. You can always link out to detailed information for various targeted groups.
  • Live chats. Bring employees into the conversation on a variety of benefits topics by hosting live Q&A or panel discussions. Events like these help foster a culture of trust and inclusiveness and provide real-time employee reactions and feedback. Record your sessions so employees not able to attend can watch the recording later.
  • Face-to-face events. Now that it’s “back to the office” for many companies after the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to bring back the camaraderie and goodwill of physical interaction. Host a benefits fair or bring in a guest speaker for a lunch n’ learn from one of your voluntary benefit vendors. Bring your benefits to employees and they may be surprised at what they’re missing out on.
  • Direct mail. Believe it or not, some employees still appreciate the personal touch and interactivity of direct mail. And it’s not just baby boomers. According to a USPS study, 84% of Millennials take the time to look through their mail, and 64% prefer to scan for useful information in physical mail rather than email. With the continuous bombardment of digital distractions, things like postcards and brochures offer a respite from the overload.

To sum it up

Personalized benefits communication is here to stay. It takes some strategic planning, but the intrinsic value it adds to the employee experience is worth it. As you experiment with different communication tactics, be sure to measure and analyze your metrics. Find what works and doesn’t work for your employees. As your workforce evolves, reevaluate your personas, employee segments and communication strategies. Always be flexible and willing to change to stay relevant with employees’ changing needs.