When your organization provides a mix of benefits as part of its compensation package, it can be challenging to explain them all to candidates as you make a job offer. You want prospective employees to know about your complete compensation package so they can consider everything they’ll receive by joining your organization, but you don’t want to risk saying anything inaccurate. And you definitely don’t want to include something in a formal offer that later changes — as benefits sometimes do.
To help you out, here are some best practices for communicating your employee benefits to a prospective hire.
Communicate Early & Often
If your organization offers a good benefits package, it can be a powerful recruiting tool. “The best time to communicate is early and often,” says Kelly D. Moore, president of Moore Benefits, Inc., a health care benefits broker in Irvine, California. “Highlight benefits in the job ad, reinforce it in the salary negotiation, include it in the offer letter and then provide alluring materials for the initial enrollment.”
Moore even recommends an additional yearly reminder after employees come on board. “Each year during salary reviews, produce a total compensation statement to show the cost of the benefits and how those plans protect and build financial security for employees and their family.”
Keep HR Involved
“If your hiring managers aren’t familiar with all the ins and outs of your benefits package, they shouldn’t be the ones to tell prospective employees about it,” says Tony Beshara, owner and president of Babich & Associates, a Dallas-based recruiting firm. It’s fine for hiring managers to tell candidates they’d like them to have a separate benefits conversation with a benefits specialist or representative from human resources.
Take Advantage of Technology
If your benefits offerings are extensive, chances are one run-through during an interview or negotiation won’t adequately convey everything. Technology can help by allowing you to share benefits information online. If your organization has some type of online benefits portal, you should be able to create guest logins for candidates.
“This could then be sent to the potential employee via email, which will enable them to learn about the company’s benefits program in their own time, and in an interactive fashion,” says Chris Costello, founder of CBG Benefits, a Massachusetts-based employee benefits brokerage firm. This will also demonstrate that your organization is forward-thinking and embraces technology.
Don’t Be Overly Specific in the Offer Letter
If you’ve given a broad overview of your benefits in the job ad and during the interview phase, and then gotten more specific during negotiations, you shouldn’t need to get too detailed in your offer letter. The last thing you want to do is guarantee a specific benefit option that later changes.
“An offer letter will typically include a sentence along the lines of … ‘You will be entitled to receive the full range of company benefits as indicated in benefit plan documents and our employee handbook,’” says Tracy Morley, legal editor at XpertHR, an online resource for HR professionals. The letter should be specific about when the benefits will go into effect and whether there is a waiting period. A more thorough benefits package offering can be sent with the offer letter as a separate document.
Be Available to Answer Questions
One of the best and simplest ways to effectively communicate with candidates is to be available to answer their questions. Different benefits will have different waiting periods, fees and other options to choose from. “The different benefits available under each plan option can be difficult for some to understand and everyone’s situation is different; therefore, having a team member or your insurance agent available to answer questions can be key to ensuring employees understand what they are electing,” says Aja Thibodeaux, benefits manager at HR Solutions, which provides HR support services for employers.