By - August 26, 2020

Are Your Employees at Risk for Communication Fatigue?

communication fatigue

Open enrollment is drawing closer…along with the many emails, webinars, and messages organizations use to help employees engage with their benefits.  

Even if your company keeps things short and carefully avoids spamming employee inboxes, increased communication is unavoidable. As we enter the fall season, it is worthwhile to consider this question:  

Are my employees at risk for communication fatigue? 

In this article, we’re looking at what this phenomenon is, why your employees might experience it, and how you can help them. 

What is communication fatigue?  

This term describes a situation where a person no longer engages with communication (or demonstrates a significant drop in engagement) because interacting with sent information is perceived as tiring, overwhelming, or not worth the individual’s effort. It’s a reason why your employees “tune out” your messages.  

During open enrollment, why might workers experience communication fatigue? 

Communication fatigue can occur at any time, but we believe it’s a particular risk for employees during open enrollment. This season entails an uptick in emails, events, paperwork, and even person-to-person conversations. 

If your messages aren’t trickled out, employees may experience a flood of benefits-related information. And that increases the likelihood of communication fatigue. 

How can organizations help employees?   

One way to address this challenge is to focus on providing value, showing thoughtfulness, and displaying creativity. Be sure not to skimp on employee education! Instead, re-imagine your open enrollment communications. Below are some ideas to get you going. 

1. Launch small-group coaching sessions. 

Bigger isn’t necessarily better. The power of a conversation outweighs the impact of a mass email. The more your communications feel smaller and personalized, the less likely your workers will ignore company messages. 

In light of this principle, consider launching coaching sessions of 10 to 20 employees. You can demonstrate how to use decision support, hold a group discussion on maximizing retirement savings, and more. Consider using incentives, like raffles, to boost attendance and let employees (and their spouses) register for a time that best fits with their schedule.

Whether you gather in a room or meet through video, the small size of your audience makes it possible to address each employee and detect body language signaling communication fatigue. 

Large organizations will need to delegate this responsibility to multiple team members. The good news is, four 30-minute sessions a day can educate 1,600 workers a month.

Tip: For even more relevance, place employees from the same age group together, and tailor your instruction around the situations they face. To learn about generational characteristics, check out From Baby Boomers to Generation Z: How Generations View Money.

2. Craft an internal podcast. 

Has your benefits team considered launching an internal podcast? (If you’re unfamiliar with this term, read this article to learn more.) 

An internal podcast can add variety to organizational communications and provide fun content for your employees. Not to mention, you can discuss retirement planning, casually plug open enrollment reminders, and keep other benefits-related matters top of mind. 

Pacific Content aptly explains how internal podcasting can address communication fatigue, writing…  

“Finding a novel and interesting way to talk with employees on a non-screen-based medium could be a magic way to create engagement that bypasses the stressors of an overflowing inbox or an over-crowded screen-based schedule.”

3. Take advantage of post-COVID-19 communication platforms.

Does your organization employ new tools in the wake of COVID-19? If so, leverage them to address communication fatigue. 

For instance, create a space where your team can make announcements within your collaboration software. If your company holds video meetings, make time for a quick open enrollment update or weekly benefits tip. 

4. Redesign your intranet. 

Your intranet is ideal for minimizing communication fatigue. Unlike emails, text messages, and mailers, intranet content is something that workers choose to receive. It’s a platform that involves deliberate employee engagement.   

Before open enrollment begins, redesign your intranet to showcase important information that might become buried in inboxes. Here are a few ideas: 

  • Install a countdown timer for the start or close of open enrollment. 
  • Create a call to action for your decision-support software.
  • Insert a retirement or HSA savings calculator.

5. Dedicate resources toward visual assets. 

There’s wisdom in the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” To minimize communication fatigue, we recommend investing in visual assets that educate your workers. 

Need to explain a challenging or misunderstood concept? Try creating a fun video. (You’re welcome to browse our video library.) 

Want to highlight a number of key points? Create a graphic that succinctly conveys multiple pieces of information.

6. Don’t forget calendar invites. 

Instead of constantly reminding employees about important dates, consider letting workplace calendars do the reminding for you. We recommend sending an invite for the start and end of open enrollment. 

A calendar notification requires less mental resources than reading an email. And automated alerts can provide additional prompts to complete the open enrollment process. 

Need help strategizing open enrollment communications? 

Educating your employees while avoiding communication fatigue is a balancing act. For benefits professionals who are coordinating a virtual open enrollment, that challenge may seem daunting.  

If you need a helping hand in the months to come, reach out to our team. 

For years, Tango Health has supported organizations with communications for open enrollment. Go here to learn more about our benefits engagement or give us a call at 855-468-2646. 

Categorized in: