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PERSONAL bests

November 2005
Performance Food Group

Uses Personalized Benefits Statements

For Performance Food Group (www.pfgc.com), personalized information kits have proven to be a successful application for digital printing and a valuable benefit for PFG employees.

PFG is one of the largest food service distributors and fresh-cut produce processors in the nation. Employees deliver more than 64,000 food service items such as baked goods, seafood, USDA meats, condiments and cleaning supplies to approximately 44,000 customers covering every kind of eatery from coast to coast. Nineteen distribution companies operate in various parts of the country, and each maintains a unique relationship with a variety of local customers—from independent restaurants and hotels, to healthcare facilities, schools and quick-service eateries.

PFG wanted to improve its internal communication efforts to this vast network of employees and came up with a plan focused on information that was extremely important to employees. PFG communications and personnel staff developed a project to highlight changes in the company benefits statement to help employees make informed decisions about new benefits and understand the value of existing ones.

[The Proposed Solution]

PFG wanted a new approach that would give employees a statement with a more complete picture of their available benefits and encourage them to take advantage of more. PFG hoped that better information would motivate associates to take advantage of unused benefits. On another level, improved communication offered the added benefit of strengthening employee loyalty and job satisfaction.

PFG Director of Corporate Communications Cheryl Moore, and National Manager of Associate Benefits Jill Stevens, developed a one-page personalized benefits statement that targeted information to the recipient. They were helped by Digital Innovations Group (www.digcreative.com), a marketing firm specializing in personalized communication programs and strategies delivered in print or via the Internet.

Digital Innovations Group expanded the benefits statement into a total compensation benefits booklet with an extensive benefit explanation. By highlighting benefits such as the 401(k) and the employee stock purchase plan, PFG hoped to increase participation by targeting eligible employees. The two documents combined to create an ideal package for communicating complex information with individual relevance.

[Variable Data Elements]

Each new statement was personalized with a listing of the employee's current insurance selections. It also included information about upcoming changes in benefits choices, which vary depending on the associate's position and division within PFG. This summary gave each recipient a convenient guide for analyzing their specific options. Information presentation was simplified because it only needed to cover benefits relevant to that employee.

The statement was further personalized in other ways meaningful to each individual recipient. Content was written in either Spanish or English, depending on the associate's language preference. A personalized letter from the appropriate division CEO was included, along with the employee's specific benefit selections by category, making all included information relevant to the recipient.

[How It Was Produced]

Worth, Higgins & Associates (www.whaprint.com), a commercial printer in Richmond, VA, handled production of the benefits documents. Its digital print division, Worth Digital, produces variable data and short-run color printing—exactly what was needed for the PFG assignment.

The materials were produced using an HP Ultrastream 3000 along with a combination of software: Lawson Human Resources Suite, Microsoft Access and Excel, and HP Yours Truly Designer. Finishing equipment included a 45˝ knife with scoring using Heidelberg Polar equipment, and a Muller Martini saddlestitcher. Statements were folded using a Stahl TD78 folder and inserted into window envelopes, then mailed either directly to the employee or to the operating company for distribution.

Production workflow was driven by PPML, the Personalized Print Markup Language. PPML is a non-proprietary, industry-standard page definition language for digital print. This emerging standard helps print operations like Worth Digital achieve more effective workflow by enabling the widespread use of personalized print applications in high volumes. It allows personalized print flow to be more flexible, easier to use and more affordable to produce.

It supports a full range of on-demand printing, ranging from the office environment to high-speed production environments.

[The Results]

In the program's first year, 10,220 statements were sent, all in English. The second year, 9,076 statements were sent in English and 230 in Spanish. PFG employee satisfaction surveys indicated a successful program. According to Cheryl Moore, "We did an interim survey after the program the first year and asked for voluntary comments the following year. The response was overwhelming, and people expressed a wish that they had this information all along. We did an electronic survey of the recipients of both static and personalized statements and received responses that the static version was confusing to people, while the personalized version was more clear."

The surveys revealed that 97 percent of PFG associates found it helpful to know about their benefits before open enrollment, and 91.4 percent found the information easier to understand. Additionally, 88.5 percent would use the personalized statement to enroll in additional benefits. "They can also use it as a tool to fill out this year's benefit choices," notes Moore. With digital printing technology, PFG gains the flexibility to fine-tune the program and ensure employees are in control of their benefits.

This case study comes from PODi's annual Best Practices in Digital Print research, the largest collection ever assembled of successful digital printing projects. PODi is an industry initiative with hundreds of member companies including executive board members EFI, HP, IBM, Kodak, Pitney Bowes, Quark and Xerox. Membership in PODi is open to most organizations involved in digital printing. For more information on joining PODi or submitting your own case study, visit www.mypodi.org/pi1.
 

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