Posted February 16, 2017
Many employees spend less than 30 minutes reviewing their benefits at enrollment time, often because they do not understand their choices, or the benefits offered may not meet their needs. Employers need to invest time in selecting the right benefits options for employees and communicate benefits effectively.
Here are four tips for success:
1. Offer the right mix of benefits – A key to employee satisfaction is to offer benefits that people need and want. Survey employees to find out:
- plan preferences, including coverage levels needed
- awareness of, and satisfaction with, the level of current benefits
- understanding and use of existing benefits
- suggestions for benefits to consider for the following year
- favorite ways to receive benefits information
Gather utilization trends from your broker and insurance sales representative, so you know the services that are most widely used, as well as those services employees may not be aware of, or may misunderstand. It may be helpful to ask employees to rank benefits choices to determine those they value most.
2. Share plan information – Several weeks before employees enroll in new benefits, provide plan details. Be sure any changes in benefits are made clear. Map out the communication process so they understand what to expect. List the dates when the enrollment period opens and closes, and explain how they can find out more about coverage options.
- List information employees will need to know when choosing plans, such as guidelines for dependent eligibility; whether dependents will need glasses, contacts or orthodontia; or whether new family members need benefits.
3. Educate employees – Explain how benefits choices will affect employees’ lives. If possible, categorize information into demographic groups. Skip the one-size-fits-all communication style. Use a blend of communication options to reach employees, such as:
- packet mailings
- informational meetings with your broker and insurance carrier representative
- lunch and learn sessions
- newsletter articles
- YouTube videos
- Q&As, charts and infographics on your benefits website
Remember to provide definitions for common insurance terms to ensure employees understand their coverages. Describe differences in plan designs, such as voluntary options vs. employer-paid benefits, or stand-alone plans vs. a combined medical coverage. Identify popular coverage options as well as services that often are overlooked. Try to anticipate questions and concerns, be sure to deliver answers, and provide more information than expected.
4. Benefits reminders – After the enrollment period, employees often forget the details communicated about their benefits. Throughout the year, encourage employees to use their benefits:
- Offer suggestions on how to get the most from their benefits, such as taking advantage of preventive screenings.
- Remind them of the value of their benefits, about deductible and copay costs, and maximum coverage amounts.
- Repeat stories of how employees use their benefits.
Think you can’t afford the time and cost of communicating employee benefits? Find out how you can, and why it’s worth it.
For more help in finding the right benefits, review these resources:
- Benefit decisions – finding the right dental and vision coverage
- Buying decisions for dental and vision insurance: seven guidelines for selecting the right plans