Employee benefits education is a vital aspect of maintaining a healthy workforce. It’s also useful for attracting new talent and remaining competitive.
According to a 2017 Society for Human Resource Management study, around “one-third of organizations increased their overall benefits offerings in the last 12 months,” with health and wellness leading the way at 22 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Much of this effort was undertaken in order to improve offerings for talent acquisition and retention.
How Employee Benefits Education Supports Administration
Most human resource professionals understand that designing employee benefits programs comes with the responsibility of being able to inform employees about the value of each benefit. When rolling out new benefit plans or adding new features, education can encourage employees to take full advantage of their health, dental and supplemental insurance for greater well-being. It can also drive down costs of premiums when more employees participate in group plans.
Best Practices for Educating the Workforce
Before diving into employee benefits education, it’s important to lay the groundwork. Use these four suggestions as guidelines for a better-managed plan:
1. Create Clearly Worded Plan Documents
Employees appreciate it when all their benefits information is delivered in a clear and concise way. A total compensation statement can be useful for explaining the benefits from a high level. Educate your employees on the details of each plan so that your workforce can use all of the features. Include downloadable plan documents in an internally shared folder so employees have easy access to necessary information.
2. Provide Easy Enrollment Options
Technology has made it possible for more employees to self-enroll in group employee benefits. However, this doesn’t mean it’s any less confusing. According to Employee Benefit News, “employers who deploy a self-service enrollment for their workforce often discover that it can backfire, resulting in frustrated employees.” To avoid confusion, make sure that there are educational elements present in any online enrollment process you offer, as this can help guide employees through the benefit selection.
3. Offer One-on-One Benefit Guidance
No matter how intuitive a digital benefits enrollment system is, nothing can compare to human touch. All human resource offices need at least two people who can act as points of contact for employee benefits education and guidance. Employees can be especially confused when they have life changes and need to update their benefits but also need help with financial planning for the future. Your organization can have a financial advisor available by appointment for more focused support.
4. Have Regular Employee Benefit Discussions
Although orientation and open enrollment tend to be the most active time for employee benefits education, employees typically have benefit concerns year-round. Make sure managers are tracking benefit use—such as paid time off and educational benefits—and discussing this with employees to remind them that they are afforded these perks. Training meetings that center on safety and wellness topics can be an opportune time to discuss health and dental benefits.
By following the above guidelines, it’s possible to encourage more employees to take advantage of the wellness support available to them. Employee benefits education should be an ongoing process, and a focused effort by your HR team can help ensure employees don’t miss out.