Employee Communication: Lessons from The State of Colorado

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Most companies understand the importance of employee communication but fail to have an effective strategy. Companies need to continuously practice and improve the way they communicate. They need to invest in the right strategies and tools to make communication consistent and engaging. And, for many companies, it doesn’t come easy. We found that less than half of employees are reading their communication messages.

The State of Colorado is one company that has prioritized communication, invested in an employee communication platform and achieved significant results over the past few years. I had the opportunity to interview this impressive organization recently for our recent Employee Communication report. Below are some highlights:

With over 95,000 total employees and offices in all 65 counties, the State of Colorado is the second largest employer in Colorado. Communicating with employees and providing the right education on Total Compensation became a top priority in 2015 when the State of Colorado revamped its communication strategy and invested in a communication platform.

The Challenge: Several years ago, employee communication was a major challenge for the State of Colorado. For starters, HR was not centralized and agencies within the State of Colorado had their own independent communication strategies. These agencies had no clear model or even a standard employee benefits guide to inform them on issues such as benefits, wellness and compensation. Communication was not consistent and often had conflicting messaging throughout the organization. As a result, only 12% of employees participated in open enrollment in 2014.

The Strategy: Two years ago, the State of Colorado made the decision to invest in a more systematic approach to communication. HR began to shift from a reactionary role of delivering messages to a proactive role of empowering employees to achieve success. Instead of agencies doing one-off communication, the State of Colorado made the following changes:

  • Communication Campaign: The State of Colorado invested in a multi-channel campaign, referred to as its “HR Toolkit” that included emails, train-the-trainer materials, webinars, regional meetings, and posters.
  • Communication Platform: Through the use of GuideSpark’s multi-media solutions, the State of Colorado was able to provide compelling videos and content to engage and connect with employees. It was also able to measure those efforts through GuideSpark’s analytics.
  • Develop an Annual Employee Benefits Guide: For the State of Colorado, the employee benefits guide replaced the independent communication efforts of the various agencies and provided the consistency and context that employees needed.

The Results: Through a new communication strategy and the right technology investment, the State of Colorado was able to achieve the following results in open enrollment in 2015:

  • 98% participation in open enrollment program
  • 31% increase in High Deductible Health Plan enrollment
  • 150 hours of time saved by eliminating meetings
  • 50% participation in wellness program.
Madeline Laurano

Madeline Laurano

Madeline Laurano is the founder and chief analyst of Aptitude Research. For over 18 years, Madeline’s primary focus has been on the HCM market, specializing in talent acquisition and employee experience. Her work helps companies both validate and re-evaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. She has watched HCM transform from a back-office function to a strategic company initiative with a focus on partnerships, experience and efficiency.

Before founding Aptitude Research, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media and Brandon Hall Group. She is the co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and is often quoted in leading business publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, The New York Times and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition conference, Unleash, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today.

In her spare time, she is a runner, an avid sports fan and juggles a house full of boys (where a spontaneous indoor hockey game is not unheard of!).

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