Why the shift?
The pandemic, and subsequent Great Resignation, put a spotlight on benefits microsites as employers saw how important it is to make employee benefits information accessible and understandable year-round.
Employers typically view open enrollment as the time of year this information is most important, but savvy employers who have analytics implemented on their microsites know that a shift has taken place. Workers need this information at critical life events, not just when they’re signing up for a new policy.
“Benefits have a reputation for being extremely complex and something that you only engage with during an open enrollment period. But life happens every day, and employees experience multiple moments that matter to them outside a two-week window in the fall.”
– Debbie Gunning, VP of Talent , San Francisco-based financial technology firm Human Interest
This has always been true, it’s just that the pandemic created a perfect storm of factors to make this shift even more noticeable. As Misty Guinn, Director of customer advocacy at benefits administration technology firm Benefitfocus in Charleston, S.C. recently commented, “The pandemic showed how quickly employees’ lives can change, and the need for employee benefits to meet these changing needs”.
Earlier in the pandemic workers needed to learn about and use their benefits more than they typically do, as workers needed to know to what extent COVID tests, treatment, sick leave, and childcare provisions were covered. As the pandemic dragged on employers also had to be more nimble with their communication as policies were constantly updating and changing. This meant workers needed clarity, not just access. It’s not enough to store return-to-office procedures on a web page, the information needs to be easily understood.
How microsites came to the rescue
In light of these challenges, the lowly benefits microsite emerged as an indispensable communication channel for a few reasons:
Better than Intranets
Microsites gave HR teams more flexibility than the notoriously hard to update the corporate intranet. HR teams could deploy new content faster and more often. Besides, in an emergency, people aren’t going to log in to the company’s intranet, they’re going to need a quick resource that’s accessible to both them and their partners outside of the company’s firewall.
Digital common rooms
The growing demand for work-from-home accommodations means companies can’t rely on physical common areas to share vital information. Microsites end up being the perfect candidate for company-wide, benefits-related announcements.
Clarity gives you a competitive edge
In the current job market, it’s tough to attract and retain talent. Making benefits content easy to access and understand shows your workforce that you care. People like working for a company that actually cares about them, as opposed to just claiming to in job postings and ads. According to research done by Voya, “two-thirds of employees want better benefits education throughout the year — not just during open enrollment… employers who take a year-round approach to benefits education will not only better serve their existing staff, but better compete for top talent.”
Savvy employers have noticed this shift, and are retooling their microsites with features that help workers navigate and understand the content easier.