The benefits world is changing fast — at times too fast for your team to keep up with.
And it’s even more of a challenge when it comes to keeping senior leaders apprised of all the developments in benefits and how they impact the strategy you’ve created to help them drive business results.
Your senior leaders spend their time immersed in other worlds — business strategy, finance, IT, operations and so forth. So, it truly is up to you to communicate and help them understand your world of benefits so you can move your vision and strategy forward.
Our clients take various approaches to getting their leaders engaged and willing to act to support benefits. Those actions are not small. You may be asking for their public support for an existing program or to sign off on a big check to launch a new one. So, how do you get your leadership on board with your vision? How can they be vocal advocates for benefits and help you drive success?
Here are three ways our clients approach this challenge.
- Show your recent wins. One benefits leader of a growing tech company prepares a detailed presentation every year for her C-suite. This largely focuses on telling a story from the prior year — what was accomplished, how they did against projections, employee feedback, communications results and the financial picture. That lays the foundation for future changes, reminding the executives that they have been successful so far and should stay on board with the vision for the future. The most important piece here: It isn’t all about cost. By presenting the full employee experience, which includes cost, she’s able to articulate the full value of benefits to the organization.
- Script it out. Public sector and multi-employer benefits leaders often need to sell their boards of trustees or administration on their benefits and communication approaches. Benefits leaders in large corporations and higher education institutions who have benefits committees or large groups of internal stakeholders find themselves in similar positions, needing to align diverse groups of stakeholders around their benefits vision.
Two of our clients who have been successful in winning over their boards go through a lengthy process to script detailed presentations, covering what they want to do and why, the audiences it will impact, their communications plan, key messages and how the team will execute against the vision.
For folks in the public sector, these may be public presentations, so all the details need to be clear and simple to follow. The key to success in these cases: Use emotion and logic to make your case. Identify key messaging that speaks to various points of view and will move people.
Some will be inspired by personal stories of how your programs will impact individuals; some will be motivated by the hard data. Then, clarify how you’ll use various media to reach them and identify the key measures you’ll use to evaluate success.
3. Don’t forget the basics. Last year one of our clients, a benefits leader at a pharmaceutical company, was surprised to learn how little her leaders knew about their benefits. When previewing a video for upcoming enrollment, some of the executives admitted they didn’t know they had a medical plan with a health savings account, or HSA, despite the plan having been in place for a few years. This created an aha moment and the immediate business case for doing even more communication prior to open enrollment that fall (and resulted in a very successful campaign). And it highlights a key part of selling your vision: Make sure your leaders know what you have today. Don’t assume they are coming to strategic conversations with the right level of background information. It’s up to you to make sure they have the education they need to understand how your plan will drive intended business results.
It bears repeating — there’s a lot going on in the benefits world right now, for all of us. Take the time to communicate and ensure your leadership is on board with your benefits vision and strategy, so your vision can come to life.