The Health Management Academy

Communication: The Key to Maximizing Your Total Rewards Investment


In this four-part series, we’ll discuss the value of a total rewards approach, including the critical role of remote work. In today’s second article, we’ll cover why communication is the key to making your total rewards investment worthwhile.


In our first article in this series, we talked about building your total rewards strategy. Now, let’s dig into some questions to gut-check whether it is working:

Are your employees consistently maximizing the benefits available to them?
Are your employees and broader community recognizing your organization’s investments in employee benefits?
Is your total rewards program fostering a great workplace culture?

If your answer to any of these questions is no, poor communication is likely to blame. Investing in a total rewards program is only the first step. To maximize its effectiveness, you need to account for when, where and how these benefits are communicated to staff. When you fail to do so, employees lack both knowledge and appreciation of the benefits available to them.

This is a missed opportunity—and a common one.

Just 26% of healthcare organizations have a comprehensive employee communication strategy.1 Why?

Communication is often pegged as a “soft” discipline, or a “nice to have.” But in reality, it’s the foundation of your total rewards strategy. An effective communication strategy is key to reaping the benefits of total rewards. We’ll restate it because it is that important: your employees can’t fully appreciate or engage with the total rewards you offer them if they don’t know the benefits exist.

As one Gallagher Health HR and Benefits Senior Consultant noted:

“Health systems will spend $15-18K on benefits per employee. But often they spend less than a cup of coffee on communicating those benefits.”

Here’s what an effective communication strategy looks like in practice:

  1. Proactive. Leadership anticipates employee needs and confirms them through multiple feedback channels: surveys, focus groups, rounding.
  2. Bidirectional. Employees are heard and seen by their leaders. Surveys are a great starting point. Even better: face time. Leaders prioritize focus groups or rounding to share their goals and vision for the organization, and employees share their thoughts on their personal work experiences.
  3. Continual. Leaders have an operational calendar built around workforce communications (e.g., benefits and engagement surveys, performance management cycles, board meetings.
  4. Multimodal. Total rewards benefits are promoted through all internal channels: email campaigns, message boards, physical signage, manager communications, leadership updates, internal communications apps and so on.

If your current total rewards communication is limited to hiring and open enrollment periods, it will take time (and effort) to flesh out a comprehensive strategy. But it will be worth it.

What results can you expect?

  • Employees maximize use of their benefits package. Employees are aware of the full range of their benefits and – critically – know how to use them. Dollars aren’t invested in underused benefits.
  • Your organization gets credit for investing in employees’ total wellbeing. Internally, your organization builds good will with existing employees, contributing to higher morale and sense of value among staff. Externally, your organization builds a reputation as a great place to work, making it easier to attract new talent. Engaged employees create brand champions, which helps to increase brand awareness.
  • Leadership builds a culture of trust and transparency. Employees believe their feedback is welcomed and feel confident that you are listening to and prioritizing their needs.

Want a quick way to find out how much you need to improve your communication strategy around total rewards? As you meet with employees this week, ask them this simple set of questions:

Which of our employee benefits do you most appreciate? Why?
How can we best support your growth at our organization?
What’s standing in the way of your ability to do your job well?

Then use that feedback to inform where you need to put in additional effort or focus. This may be a humbling exercise, but it will get you moving in the right direction.

The Academy extends its appreciation to Gallagher for their sponsorship of this article

About Gallagher

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE:AJG), a global insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting services firm, is headquartered in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Gallagher provides these services in approximately 130 countries around the world through its owned operations and a network of correspondent brokers and consultants.

To learn more, visit

[1] Gallagher. “2022 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey.” Gallagher, 2022,