EDS Canada was moving from a traditional plan to a flexible benefits plan and needed to get the message across to employees in a positive way. The challenge was to help employees understand their options and choose the coverage levels most appropriate to their individual circumstances. “When you move to a flex plan, you need to have a lot of communication and increase employee awareness on benefit coverage and consumerism,” says Tanya McLaughlin, HR specialist, at EDS.

In conjunction with Towers Perrin, EDS developed a variety of media to get employees’ attention, including e-cards, emails, posters, a plan guide and benefits update newsletters. “One of the big struggles that we have with our organization is that people don’t read things,” comments McLaughlin. “As a result, we had to come up with a number of different formats and mediums to encourage employees to read the communications and make informed decisions.”

EDS also emphasizes wellness and healthy lifestyles as part of its overall benefits strategy. Related initiatives include holding regional lunch and learn sessions on various topics (such as maintaining a healthy life balance or stress relief techniques), keeping a calendar of wellness events and themes (e.g., Eat Smart! month) and forming a relationship with Matria Health, a wellness provider with a range of online resources. EDS also plans to roll out a quarterly e-newsletter focused on wellness in the near future.

Increased benefits communication through various media has helped EDS achieve its cost-containment objectives. For example, after a targeted campaign on pharmacies and dispensing fees, EDS saw a reduction in dispensing fee costs within the drug plan.

Perhaps more importantly, introducing and communicating wellness initiatives has led to a marked improvement in employee morale. “People are starting to see that HR is doing something positive and that EDS is a company that cares about its employees,” McLaughlin affirms.

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