Whether they’re too busy, or simply feel uneasy about stepping away from work, many employees don’t take the time to explore all the benefits their companies offer. This often leads to them missing out on programs and perks they could have taken advantage of otherwise, as well as increasing the chance they will burn out, or face other difficulties.
If you’re concerned that employees aren’t fully utilizing their benefits packages — including their paid vacation time — you’re not alone. To help highlight some approaches you can take, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council the following question:
“Some people get too involved in work, and don’t want to step away for time off, while others aren’t always aware a company is offering a specific benefit. What is the best way to make sure people are aware of, and are taking advantage of, company benefits, including vacation time, besides periodic emails from HR?”
Employee Benefits Communications Tips
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. Communicate It During Onboarding
“When hiring new employees, we make sure to promote our company benefits like vacation time to them right from the start. That way, as soon as they’re hired with our company, they’re aware of all of the benefits that are available to them. We promote our company benefits in the career section of our website to applicants. Once we begin the hiring process, we remind them in a number of other places.” ~ Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
2. Spell It Out in the Employee Handbook
“A complete and comprehensive employee handbook should include all corporate policies, as well as information on time off, remote work opportunities, sick leave, insurance and any other benefits your organization offers. That eliminates the need for emails from HR, but if a deadline is coming up regarding signing up for health insurance as an example, a reminder email wouldn’t hurt.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
3. Share Examples and Stories
“A great way to promote the benefits your company offers is to have your employees do the promotion for you. For example, if your company offers paid vacations, encourage your employees to tell stories about their trips during company meetings. This will help advise employees of the benefit and encourage them to utilize it more.” ~ Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
4. Say It Visually
“Infographics can make any important office communication easier to understand and remember. That’s why it’s good to have benefits information made into nice graphic packages and distributed to the team.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
5. Extensively Document Benefits Information in an Employee Hub
“Create a hub for information related to vacation time, benefits and other relevant information. It’s important to painstakingly document every relevant benefit and how to take advantage of them. Don’t assume that certain information is obvious and that your employees will understand what they need to know. Create as much detail as possible in one place and make it searchable.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
6. Give HR the Floor in Meetings
“HR is a team and reports updates as any other team would during dedicated meeting time and lunches. I offer HR a chance to make announcements in our team meetings, in addition to an announcement luncheon where everyone has the chance to ask questions and understand what benefits are available to them. Dedicated time for policy discussion and contribution is vital to the company culture.” ~ Matthew Capala, Alphametic
7. Simplify the Process
“If it’s an arduous process for employees to request time off or be included in benefits, then simplify it. You can do this by minimizing paperwork or making the forms they have to fill out simpler. If something asks for information you don’t necessarily need, then omit it from the paperwork.” ~ Jared Atchison, WPForms
8. Send Slack Reminders
“We have a Slack channel specifically used for announcements, and this includes reminding employees to request time off before the deadline. That way, they know what their work schedules are ahead of time, especially for the holidays. It sets everyone up for success because everyone is aware of what they need to do to take time off and relax.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
9. Encourage Managers to Check In With Employees
“Our managers have weekly or bi-weekly meetings with their team members. They check in monthly to ask what vacation they have coming up. This helps them plan accordingly for long or overlapping PTO days. By having managers encourage and check in, it keeps it top of mind for the whole team, and by doing it throughout the year it keeps everyone from taking off last minute and all at once.” ~ Kerry Guard, MKG Marketing
10. Remind Them Why It’s Important to Use Their Benefits
“We have gotten to a point in our culture where taking time off is a weakness, and we need to change that mindset. Making sure my employees avoid burnout by taking time off is a priority of mine. I regularly stress to them how important it is that they take off and why it is so important. Then when someone does make plans, we discuss it openly. I want everyone to be inspired to go recharge.” ~ Rana Gujral, Behavioral Signals
11. Lead by Example
“The most effective way to get folks to step away and take care of themselves is to practice what I preach: When the leadership team models good boundaries then the rest of the company will follow suit. Often I’ll have an employee say that they will be on vacation but to ping them when I need something, and I use that as an opportunity to encourage them to totally unplug and enjoy their time off.” ~ Erik Rivera, Certapet
12. Send Out Fun Newsletters and Incorporate the Information Into Games
“Have cool company monthly newsletters that will help everyone remember their benefits, cut-offs and even their limitations. Knowledge is power, and benefits are a company’s way of saying “I care” in a fun and exciting way. Have games and trivia on social media or in your groups that will help everyone be reminded of what’s new and due.” ~ Daisy Jing, Banish
13. Get Feedback
“Ask for feedback and offer an exciting reward for the participants. Take a survey to understand what benefits employees like, don’t use or want to add. Be sure to give participants a reward they would be excited to receive. This not only helps educate them on what benefits they already have, but is a good way for you to learn why they might not be using them yet.” ~ Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
14. Make It a Part of Work Culture
“Leadership should always be encouraging when people take time off. Allow rest and breaks to be a part of the company’s culture. Don’t ever make employees feel ashamed to step away from work to refresh. Have a laid-out plan in place for when employees take vacations to ensure that the workload will never increase or be waiting for them when they return.” ~ Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors