Why Benefits Presentations are a Waste of Time

by | May 20, 2020 | Product

As you plan out your benefits education strategy this year, what tops your list? We’ll venture a guess: a benefits presentation is near the top.

Benefits presentations haven’t evolved much since their creation. Our attention spans, on the other hand, have shortened. We expect bite-sized information, short texts, and digital versions of everything. In short, there’s a disconnect between how we provide benefits education and how employees want to consume it. In this post, we’ll discuss why typical benefits presentations waste your time (and theirs) and what to do instead.

Isn’t a benefits presentation just how it’s done?

Well, yes. A benefits presentation might be an effective way to introduce employees to their benefits. As a long-term strategy, though, a single presentation won’t cut it. Since we know that most employees don’t use or understand their benefits, we can guess that something is lacking in the typical present-and-run method.

The problems with benefits presentations, as we see it, are threefold.

Benefits presentations are long
There’s some debate surrounding the idea of attention span, and interestingly, much of it is focused on presentations. We might be able to hold the audience’s attention for 18 minutes (a TED talk) or just a few seconds (a really boring webinar). The ideal time likely depends on the audience, the content, and maybe even a few nebulous factors like the warmth of the room and the time of day. Regardless, it’s probably wise to keep your presentations as short as possible.

Benefits presentations are boring
We could all use a visual update from time to time. According to Xerox, simply adding color increases motivation by up to 80%. That’s ideal if you’re trying to prompt employees to enroll in benefits, submit forms, or just leave a presentation intrigued enough to try a new benefit. Adding color, graphics, and visual interest can help break up longer presentations and provide a reason to maintain attention. Of course, you’ll need to do all this while keeping your presentation short and providing enough actionable detail. Are you starting to see the conflict?

Benefits presentations don’t go far enough. Benefits presentations are static. Yes, even if you apply those fun slide transitions. What I mean is this: benefits presentations happen in a small meeting room (or maybe in a shared folder) at the beginning of open enrollment. They don’t help employees connect education to action in the moment when it matters. If they aren’t easily accessible, they might not even serve as a useful reference throughout the year. Your employees expect reminders, notifications, and near-constant contact. Those rules are at direct odds with a static presentation, meaning it doesn’t go far enough to drive year-round engagement.

So why are we still using benefits presentations?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a benefits presentation. Our hope is simply that, as you work to upgrade your benefits education plan ahead of open enrollment, you move away from making them your entire strategy. As a first step, presentations can help start to build excitement and introduce the big picture of your benefits package.

To keep presentations helpful, focus on making them sharp, short, and intriguing. You can pick up tips watching TED talks. Dive deeper into color theory to enhance audience interest. The challenges of COVID-19 might prompt you to change your strategy to work more effectively when an audience isn’t in the room. Heck, you might even learn a thing or two from that virtual PowerPoint Party you attended for your friend’s birthday.

Crucially, don’t stop there. To make sure your benefits presentations aren’t lost time, you’ll need to take things further. Consider incorporating strategies that keep benefits top-of-mind throughout the year.

Employee Benefits Communication Guide

We’ve gathered our best tips for employee benefits communication into this comprehensive guide. Learn best practices, helpful tips for your next presentation, and more.

Learn more »

To make sure the information you present sticks, add these additional strategies:

  • Push notifications and SMS messages – Like it or not, our phones occupy a unique and essential place in our lives. One study by Localytics found that app users who receive push notifications had 53% more sessions than app users who didn’t get notifications. If your benefits aren’t centralized in an app, you can still take advantage of a mobile approach using SMS messages. In another study, 98% of mobile users read a branded or business-based text communication—90% within the first 3 minutes. Building a regular education strategy with a mobile focus allows you to capitalize on your employee’s mobile behavior (see our post The Best Benefits Engagement Tool You’re Not Using for more).
  • Email campaigns – You might assume that email’s been entirely replaced by booming tools like Slack, but there’s still a time and place for this communication method. For one thing, it’s easy to bookmark and save important emails. If you need to add additional details that were left out of your presentation for length, consider an email campaign with clickable links, short descriptions, and action items. For another, even and especially if you’re on Microsoft Teams or Slack, emails carry a certain weight. Reiterate the most important aspects of your benefits presentations in email form. Email campaigns can even drive initiatives like a new cost-containment measure or a new wellness program.
  • Benefits experience platforms – A benefits experience platform allows you to centralize everything, from your individual, siloed benefits to the education you need to drive their utilization, in a single place. With a benefits experience platform in your back pocket, you’ll know that employees can easily follow up on your presentation without digging for links. You can run regular education campaigns directly to your employees’ phones, highlighting new benefits and driving utilization in just a few taps. In short, a benefits experience platform just might be the best way to ensure your hardworking benefits presentations aren’t a total waste of time.

Don’t ditch your presentation—but don’t rely on it either

As you work to build a stronger benefits communication strategy, it’s likely your presentation will need a little retooling. So, too, might your strategy. Incorporating other communication tools, like push notifications, SMS messages, and even strategic email campaigns will buoy your benefits presentation. That way, you can ensure it’s just the beginning of a successful benefits rollout.

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