6 tips for using social media for employee benefits

Close up of a hand holding a smart phone in front of a laptop

Despite recent media scrutiny of social networking sites over privacy concerns, social media remains one of the most effective channels for reaching employees and building trust. You may already be using social media to engage employees in other areas, so why not consider it for employee benefits communications as well?

Your employees are already using social media

According to the Willis Towers Watson 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, 25% of employees use social media and online forums to understand health issues and 51% use technology to manage their health. Social media presents an opportunity to reach your employees, their dependents and even future employees about a number of different benefit and wellness topics.

Still, employees may not think of social media as the first place to go with their benefit questions. They may not be interested in hearing from their employer about work on a platform they use primarily for personal interactions.

So, how can you overcome these challenges and encourage your employees to follow, interact and actually “like” your company’s employee benefits communications?

The answer is to think of your employees as internal customers. You want their buy-in during open enrollment, enabling them to take full advantage of their benefits and to ultimately be advocates for your company. Wouldn’t it make sense to ‘sell’ them on these ideas by meeting them in their chosen marketplace? Social media is that marketplace, but to be successful you have to understand the lay of the land.

Here are 6 tips to help you get started on using social media for employee benefits:

  1. Survey your employees. Is social media right for them? Will they want to participate? And if so, via which channels?
  2. Select the platform(s) that make the most sense for your employees and create a strategy for how you’ll use it, including a communications plan for rolling it out.
  3. Be up front regarding the content you’ll share and what you’ll see on employees’ profiles.
  4. Craft a company social media policy that defines appropriate content and conduct. Consider placing this as a “featured post” or including it on your company pages. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has a sample social media policy you can download if you are a member.
  5. Consult with your legal team to draft a terms of agreement and privacy policy that communicates how the company will use the data it collects. Encourage your employees to read these documents for all social media platforms and apps they use.
  6. Gather your gatekeepers. Social platforms depend on the give and take of human interaction to be effective. So assign a human resources staff member or marketing employee to monitor and respond to employee questions and concerns in a timely manner.

What should you share?

Once you’ve launched your social media account(s), think about the content you’ll post. Develop a monthly communication calendar to keep your content organized and build in dates to ensure you don’t miss key opportunities to post timely content. Ideas for content might include:

  • Reminders about open enrollment dates and deadlines
  • Continuous benefit education and reminders (e.g., Did you know you can use our employee assistance program any time?)
  • Educational tips about money-saving health services, such as going to an urgent care center versus an emergency room for a non-emergency
  • Timely health initiatives in the news (e.g., Today is “National Wear Red Day” for heart health – have you had your blood pressure checked recently?)
  • Healthy recipes, exercise tips and photos of employees being active
  • Live coverage from company wellness events and fairs
  • Images of employees participating in the company softball game or picnic

What else should you keep in mind?

Social media platforms are also excellent recruiting tools, offering potential employees a window into your company and what it stands for. So consider how the information you share reflects your values, and how the company and its employees are making a difference in the community. Create internal communication guidelines to ensure the messaging and images being presented are engaging, accurate and on-brand.

And remember, you can post information at any time, but so can your employees, and others. That’s why it’s so important to have a system for monitoring and responding to posts in place ahead of time.

Final thoughts:

Using social media platforms to communicate with employees makes it easier than ever to provide information in real time on platforms that your employees are already using. The key is to use those platforms in a thoughtful, engaging way, and these tips can help you navigate that process.

Launching social media channels will take time and resources, but when done well, the payoff can be huge in terms of employee attraction, engagement and loyalty.


 

Kristen Struys, senior associate in Willis Towers Watson’s Talent and Rewards practiceKristen Struys is a senior associate in Willis Towers Watson’s Talent and Rewards practice.

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