Modern communication methods have brought an overload of information. In this age, immense volumes of mail not only accumulate at the front door, it also accumulates in email in-boxes. The sheer volume alone leads us to delete spontaneously anything that isn’t a bill, personal or business matter, or of other significant importance.
This creates an especially challenging situation for employers attempting to communicate benefit issues with their employees. It also means that employers need to develop benefit communication presentations that employees don’t dismiss instantly and discard if they want to communicate benefit matters effectively. One way to do this is by considering your specific employees when developing communications. By identifying various employee groups, you can then work to target or customize the communications toward them.
It’s important to first understand that topic interest is going to strongly vary from generation to generation, as each will have different current needs and goals for the future. The current work force consists mainly of three generations: Those born after 1980, Generation Y; those born from 1965 to 1980, Generation X; and those born before 1965, the Baby Boomer Generation.
Generation Y are those that are relatively young and still in the beginning stages of their career. This group isn’t very likely to be contemplating their retirement or the importance of retirement savings. As most of us not in this generation can remember, the fallacies of youth might include a feeling of infallibility and an assumption that bad things only happen to others. So, this group might not pay much attention to health benefit information. This generation is accustomed to fast-paced media imagery and usually don’t have very long attention spans. Therefore, this group is more likely to be receptive if the communication is concise and visually catching and received through electronic portals, such as email.
On the other hand, those in Generation X are at a much different point in their lives. Children, a mortgage, contributing to a child’s college education, caring for an elderly parent, and contributions to a future retirement are all common financial responsibilities of this age group, and these responsibilities often compete with one another. This group is usually established enough to know the importance of a retirement plan, but still might not be sufficiently contributing, if at all, due to balancing other financial obligations. Knowing what affects this group can be the perfect gateway to communication. For example, a retirement plan communication that has a budgeting tool as a highlight could serve to gain viewer attention. An EAP (Employee Assistance Program) with a resource and referral service to get elderly care and childcare services might also be something this group would find useful. So, EAP availability could be a highlight of a communication and gateway to discussing other benefits.
Baby Boomers are at the end of their careers and quickly nearing retirement. Many are scrambling to account for bad financial decisions or lapses in savings and preserve whatever they’ve managed to accumulate thus far. Age also brings an increasing concern about health care issues. Any communication that targets these issues is usually very well received by this generation. Many in this generation aren’t very computer savvy and respond better to non-electronic communications.
The bottom line on targeted communications is quite simple: Whatever is interesting and applicable to us now is what we are most likely to read and pay attention to now. It only makes sense that effective communication is best achieved by knowing what’s important and when it’s important, and then developing and presenting communications accordingly.