Company benefits can sometimes be a confusing subject. When it comes to open enrollment periods, employees often just pick the same group benefits they did the year before without fully understanding the value. At the same time, new hires may be more discerning, but many are too embarrassed to ask for additional information.
The Society for Human Resource Management published the results of a survey by Jellyvision that revealed some surprising revelations concerning benefits confusion among employees. The organization arrived the following conclusions:
Around 34 percent of employees surveyed claim to pay attention to all the materials they receive about their benefits
Nearly half of all employees reported that making health insurance decisions is “very stressful”
Approximately 41 percent of respondents feel that open enrollment is an “extremely confusing” process at their company
About 20 percent of employees noted that they often regret the benefit choices they make during open enrollment
All of these facts are concerning, considering that employers do a lot to try and make company benefits a valuable part of compensation. It seems that more employees are not getting the right amount of information to make smart decisions as health care consumers. To account for this, HR representatives need to ensure they are providing employees with benefits information in the clearest, most efficient (and effective) way possible. Here’s what you need to know in order to make a difference at your organization, as well as some helpful tips for improving this process for new hires.
Improving Employee Benefits Communications
In today’s workplace, the way in which HR communicates benefits should be in keeping with other standards of information sharing. For example, the use of mobile benefit enrollment apps and other tools that employees can access from any smartphone.
“Employees expect their company benefits communications to be accessible, much like the way they prefer personal communications, ” says Keith Kitani, CEO of GuideSpark. This also means keeping information concise and well organized.
Professionals typically have a better experience with enrolling in benefits that are personalized to their needs, based on a number of dynamics. Since employees are likely to be at different life stages, they will have changing needs. For instance, a new hire from Generation Z will have very different health and wellness needs than a baby boomer who is just years away from retirement. Using specific demographics, benefits communications and marketing strategies can be designed to appeal to people of diverse backgrounds and groups. It’s also a good idea to use snackable content alongside more detailed information, so as to not overwhelm anyone.
The use of online guides, videos and libraries of additional content is growing more popular in company benefits platforms. But even more modern technology has led to forward-thinking companies using platforms like Siri to communicate important group benefits plan information and send out enrollment reminders. Introducing new technology could significantly increase awareness and adoption. According to Jon Bryant, director of online and communications at Aon Employee Benefits, software applications have so far been much more successful than telephone or online sign-up portals. “The biggest variable factor in take-up is access,” he says.
Improving the New Hire’s Experience of Benefits Enrollment
When introducing new hires to your company’s benefits program, be sure to give them enough time to make good decisions—but not too much, so they don’t feel confused or overwhelmed. There is already enough information to take in during the first few weeks on the job. Consider setting aside time to meet with each new employee to present detailed benefit plan information and go over any questions or concerns they may have.
Employees will have already been given some benefits marketing materials to review during the recruitment phase, but this is typically not enough to direct them toward successful enrollment in their benefits. There are many positive results of strategic benefits communication, including more informed employees who make better health decisions.
A quick demonstration of the online benefits enrollment software used within your organization will generally provide new hires with all the information they need to sign up. Offering an overview of what benefits are available, what the company matches and how to make the most of the benefits offered is a more personalized method of orienting new hires to this process.
Interested to discover other ways you can help your colleagues manage their dental benefits? Learn more by exploring the comprehensive Employer Toolkit on United Concordia Dental’s website.