Survey: How to communicate with Millennials at work

The traditional way to communicate benefits and policies to employees is to hand the new hires a stack of pamphlets, paperwork and an employee handbook. A survey released Wednesday by Guidespark, an employee communication firm, finds that's not a good model for Millennials, who respond more positively to other forms of communication.

According to the survey, 43 percent of Millennials haven't read most of their employee handbook. While 30 percent of other employees haven't read most of their handbooks either, this is a significant difference. In fact, 36 percent of Millennials don't even know where their handbooks are.

So if a large portion of this group doesn't bother to even look at the paperwork provided by HR, it would seem that their benefits are not important to them, right? Not so. The survey indicates that 87 percent of Millennials say that benefits are extremely important in choosing to join an employer, and 86 percent say that benefits strongly influences their decision to stay with a particular company.

So, how do they want to receive benefits information? All employees want to receive info via email, but Millennials are 18 percent more likely to want to receive information face to face, or, surprisingly, by text message. In fact, 44 percent prefer to receive information on their mobile device.

In addition, 56 percent want their benefits to to be easier to understand and 61 percent want to spend as little time as possible learning about their benefits.

With these findings in mind, how can companies modify their benefits communications in order to reach Millennials?

Consider using video. Millennials are also the YouTube generation. They have their smart phones in hand and are accustomed to learning through video. (Remember, if they are hourly employees you have to pay them for the time spent watching the video, even if they do so from home.)

Include face to face benefits counseling as part of your onboarding process. When you're 45 and starting your fifth new job, you don't need an in-depth explanation about how 401(k)s work. When you're 22 and this is your first real job, you do. Make it an option.

Add a short summary sheet. In addition to the detailed booklets, consider putting the highlights on one page in bullet point format.

Put everything on the company intranet. Don't expect people to keep paper copies hand, or even an emailed copy. By putting your handbook on your company intranet, your employees can find it when needed. Remember to send out a notification when you update any information.