Open enrollment is the time each year when employers permit new employees to enroll, renew, and make changes to their employee benefit elections. Employers can assist employees during open enrollment by distributing materials that explain new options and changes to existing benefits. Unfortunately, many employers struggle to find the resources needed to properly educate employees on their benefits. Here are a few ways in which you can boost your benefits education program, so you can be sure your employees are getting the most out of their benefits.
Both employers and employees face challenges in benefits education. Employers sometimes struggle to balance the bottom dollar with offering a competitive benefits package that will promote employee welfare and morale. Employers also must face the constantly evolving regulatory landscape of compliance with various government entities. Ultimately though, employees tend to notice when an employer takes the time and effort to educate them on their benefits package.
Employees tend to also look at the bottom line. They look at their payroll deductions and struggle to understand the true value of these benefits. However, if an employer takes the time to educate their workforce on how the benefits positively influence their lives, then the value begins to equal or even outweigh the cost of the monthly premiums.
Keys to better benefits education
So how to you as an employer work to improve your benefits education strategy?
- Focus on the end user. The first step is to think about what your employees need and want from their benefits package. You should cater your benefits packages to your employee demographics. For instance, if a large portion of your workforce is female, you should consider a disability policy with additional perks for those who decide to have children. In contrast, a large population of older employees may need an enhanced retirement savings program or even better life insurance options.
- Utilize multi-channel communication. The best way to educate your employees on their benefits and also get feedback from them is to use all available forms of communication. No one form of communication is going to reach your entire workforce. While some employees pay attention to benefit presentations and large amounts of written material, their counterparts may prefer to learn using email, video, postcards, or even social media.
- 24/7 Access. Recent studies show that 65% of employees prefer to review benefits materials outside of working ours. There are many ways of doing this, but the two best ways are:
- Online benefits enrollment portal. No one likes filling out mountains of paperwork just so that they can have insurance. Additionally, they do not want to have track down that paperwork later when they need to look up something about their benefits. By using a user-friendly online portal, you give your employees the freedom to learn at their own pace. Post all your benefits education videos, postcards, emails, or flyers for future reference so they can look at it when they have enough time. Ideally, these employees can use this portal to not only enroll during open enrollment, but also log in at a later date to check their FSA, change dependents, update personal information, or retrieve information on their benefits.
- Mobile app. Adults are spending more time on their mobile devices. Like the online benefits portal, a mobile app empowers the employee with resources for their education. Employees can connect to their benefits portal, review plan documents and educational videos, and receive push notifications about important benefit dates. Additionally, all those communications pieces on your benefits portal can be uploaded to the app for easy access by the employee.
- Gauging your success. One way of telling if your benefits package is a good fit for your workforce is to look at your benefit adoption numbers. However sometimes the numbers don’t tell you everything. You can use employee surveys and focus groups to find out what your employees think about your current benefit offering or possible changes. Don’t for get to look at both the numbers and your employee feedback regularly. Your workforce changes and so do their benefit needs.
- Find allies. You don’t have to do this alone! Find benefit partners that share your vision of helping your employees through benefits. Does your broker or Third Party Administrator provide you with true consulting and then help you create the perfect benefit package for your employees? Do they provide you with educational resources for you to send to your employees? Do you have an online benefit system that is easy to use and provides the highest levels of service and support? If not, then it may be time to add or replace some of your allies.
The success of your benefits education efforts is largely up to you. What steps will you take to provide better benefits and benefits education to your workforce? If you need help deciding or want to discuss how FBS can help, contact us to speak to a consultant.