ABB Canada saw 93 per cent of its 3,200 eligible employees actively enroll in a new benefits plan following the acquisition of manufacturer Thomas & Betts in 2014.

It made sense to have “one common approach to benefits” after different groups of employees joined, says Fannie Jacques, vice-president of human resources at the power and automation company.

After ABB Canada switched from offering a traditional benefits plan to a bespoke one that employees can customize according to their needs, the organization was named a finalist for the Benefits Plan Communications Award at Benefits Canada’s 2015 Workplace Benefits Awards.

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Through the new program, ABB Canada offers full reimbursement on generic drugs, though employees need to choose their level of health, dental and insurance coverage. Those who opt for limited coverage are given “flex credits,” which they can use towards a health spending account or personal spending account.

Alongside its new benefits plan, the organization also launched a three-year wellness program in early 2015. Employees have access to a health assessment questionnaire, health clinic, lunch-and-learns about nutrition and fitness, and an online health portal.

Educating people in benefits is an opportunity for companies to be proactive, notes Jacques. “You can do great things in life, but if you don’t share them the right way, nobody will know. The reality is we spend millions of dollars every year on benefits so we should make sure people understand what they get for it… so they have a better appreciation of the value of benefits.”

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With that in mind, ABB Canada created a two-stage communications plan with its consultancy Willis Towers Watson and advertising agency UpperKut to ensure employees understood the new plan. The campaign included an enrolment kit, information sessions, videos, posters and an information phone line.

In communications, Jacques notes, diversification is key, and personal meetings present “a good opportunity for the organization to get in close proximity to their employees.” So, the organization held 108 information sessions in 70 locations across the country, with 76 per cent of eligible employees attending a session.

And the response from employees once the new benefits plan was launched was very positive, says Jacques, with 93 per cent of plan members taking the initiative to shape their benefits instead of accepting a default plan.

To communicate the wellness program, Jacques and her team first informed company executives to get their full support and then encouraged employees to use the health tools and services through a poster and newsletter.

Has your organization developed a creative and effective benefits communication program? The 2016 Workplace Benefits Awards are now open for nominations.

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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