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What? Start Communication Planning Now?

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The holiday break is never long enough. You just finished up 2012 annual enrollment, addressed the last few administrative hic ups and made sure the new ID cards arrived at employees’ homes on time. But there is no rest for the weary! It’s time to start thinking about your 2012 benefits communications—now. Here’s why.

It takes time to nurture employee engagement, change behaviors and sustain positive employee relations. Effective communications are essential to realizing these goals. Planning and strategy are essential for good communications. So, you need time to plan ahead and develop a communication strategy that spans the entire year, not just during annual enrollment or at performance and salary review events.

Get Going on Your 2012 Communication Plan

Start now: Be proactive and think through the key issues and opportunities for 2012. Do this early enough in the year so that you have time to plan, decide what you need to do and get it done in an efficient and cost-effective way.

Assess last year’s communications: What communications did you send? Who were your audiences? What media worked the best? What communications went well (content, process, timing)? What did you learn for future communications? Consider whether employee input is needed for planning your strategy, developing ideas or engaging employees.

Set goals: Based on your organization’s business goals and HR’s specific goals, what do you need to accomplish with your 2012 communications? Be specific.

Develop a plan: Map out the steps you need to take to achieve your communication goals. Outline the main activities, key messages, audiences, challenges, potential roadblocks, media, timing and cost.  

Manage your plan: Things happen, deadlines move, people come and go, all of which can impact your communication plan. Update your schedules, anticipate potential issues and keep your key stakeholders informed.

Evaluate results:  Since you set communication goals at the beginning of the year (right?), you can evaluate how well your communications met those goals. Use the results to demonstrate ROI and inform your 2013 communication plan.

It’s not too late, but you better get started!