Communicating the Value of Benefits to Wyeth Employees
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Holmes Report

Communicating the Value of Benefits to Wyeth Employees

In researching benefits changes for 2005, Wyeth Human Resources discovered that employees did not understand the value of the benefits offered to them and didn’t know where to go for benefits information.

Paul Holmes

In researching benefits changes for 2005, Wyeth Human Resources discovered that employees did not understand the value of the benefits offered to them and didn’t know where to go for benefits information. Wyeth HR decided that the 2005 Open Enrollment period—normally a time for employees to sign up for medical, dental and life insurance—would be a great opportunity to communicate the benefits changes, and also build awareness and appreciation for the total benefits program at Wyeth.

Davis & Company worked with Wyeth to create an easy-to-read, engaging, customized benefits campaign with a strong graphic identity. The employee-focused communications effort was extremely successful, as employees were highly engaged in the enrollment process and indicated a much higher understanding of the total benefits package. The design approach for the benefit materials is serving as the model for all future HR communication at Wyeth.

Wyeth, faced with increasing employee benefits costs for its 40,000 worldwide employees, was planning to make changes to the benefit programs offered to employees for 2005 to keep costs under control. To see what benefits should be changed, Wyeth HR benchmarked its benefits against those of other companies and conducted an internal survey to measure how employees felt about specific benefits, the total benefits program overall, as well as their information preferences.

The survey results were used to make strategic cuts in benefits less preferred by employees, while adding new programs such as a Vision Care Plan. Most striking from the survey was that employees did not realize the overall value of the benefits offered by Wyeth, which had never presented benefits as a total program.

Wyeth HR hired Davis & Company in August of 2004 to help communicate total benefits in conjunction with 2005 Open Enrollment (starting in October 2004). Leveraging our expertise in employee communication, Davis & Company successfully partnered with Wyeth to create a multi-faceted benefits communication campaign that was focused on employee needs, provided a top-level view of the benefits available, along with specifics about plan changes for 2005.

The biggest communication challenges were describing the changes that were occurring for 2005, why the changes were necessary and how decisions on employee benefits were made, demonstrating why employees need to become informed healthcare consumers and the changing employer/employee benefits role in managing benefits, raising employee perception of the total value of benefits at Wyeth, even while cuts were occurring, communicating effectively and clearly so employees could make informed benefits decisions and using multiple communication channels—including print, online, e-mail and face-to-face—to deliver timely messages and answer employee concerns.

The employee benefits survey conducted in early 2004 served as the road map for benefits changes, as well as how communication was implemented. Employees said they wanted their benefits information in one accessible place, with easy reference if they wanted more information. In planning the project, our objectives for the campaign were to; create a positive employee perception about benefits and understanding about all benefits offered, clearly describe the changes to the program in plain language

Make it easy for employees to access information at a glance, customize communications for individuals (via personalized enrollment forms) and tailor it for key employee segments (union, non-union, Puerto Rico,) and become a resource for future reference.

The campaign included a family of communication components using electronic and print vehicles, with the Employee Benefits Resource Book at the core. We created clear and compelling communications using call-outs and photos to make them visually appealing and content that was organized in a simple and intuitive manner. Human Resources personnel were key to this communication effort, and special face-to-face meetings were conducted with them to make sure they knew the changes in-depth and were ready to answer employee questions and concerns.

Davis & Company collaborated with Wyeth’s HR organization and SHPS, an HR/healthcare outsourcing firm, to plan and coordinate the project. Regular team meetings kept the project on schedule, despite the size of the project and the less than three-month timeframe to plan, develop, design and produce the following; key messages and a graphic identity for the program, the Employee Enrollment Kit, which included the Employee Benefits Resource Book, Benefits Changes Overview, personalized enrollment forms and packaging, a Communications Toolkit for HR representatives, including a PowerPoint presentation with talking points and frequently asked questions, a series of posters announcing face-to-face meetings, benefit fairs and open enrollment dates and an Employee Benefits web site, with HTML and PDF versions of the resource book.

Employee feedback was overwhelmingly positive. An employee survey was conducted immediately following the open enrollment period that measured employee understanding and usefulness of communications. Results revealed: most employees said they have a better understanding of the benefit programs overall and the changes for the 2005 benefit plan year, many employees said that the combination and variety of communication formats (materials and meetings) was highly effective.

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