Human Resources News & Insights

Putting benefits jargon into employees’ language

It’s no surprise that many employees find benefits concepts and terms hard to understand. After all, there’s a lot of jargon and alphabet soup to decode — HSA, 401(k), FSA, EAP, etc.

Here are four communication strategies that’ll help employees decode benefits info:

  1. Simplify words and images. Image you’re talking to someone who barely speaks English, and break words or phrases down to their most basic meaning. Example: Instead of “Your copay is $20,” try, “It’ll cost you $20.”
  2. Appeal to their emotions. Few employees get jazzed up about terms like “pre-tax dollars” and “formularies.” But they pay attention if you talk about things like keeping more of their pay from the government, or saving money by using generic drugs.
  3. Tell real-life stories. Storytelling is a great way to illustrate the workings of your benefit programs. Create credible stories (or, even better, tell real ones) using everyday language and situations. One idea: Encourage employees to tell their stories about how a benefit plan helped them save money or obtain great service. The advantage to this: Chances are, the employee will use language the average worker will understand. Just be sure they leave out certain details (like what kind of medical conditions they had, how much they spent, etc.).
  4. Use interactive learning tools. Simple teaching tools — like quizzes or puzzles — engage employees. Example: To encourage weight loss, create a “Test Your Knowledge” quiz about how big a difference small changes — like drinking one fewer soda each day — can make in the long run.
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