You spend a lot of time and money making sure your employee benefits are competitive, cost-effective and meet the needs of your workforce. Unfortunately, despite all of your efforts, your employees may not really understand what you are offering.
A recent survey by Colonial Life showed that in U.S. companies with more than 100 employees, only 33% of employees reported understanding their benefits well. In smaller companies, 47% did.
We can learn a lot from these numbers.
Benefits literacy is at an all-time low
Benefits literacy is a level of knowledge that enables a participant to make informed decisions when choosing and using your benefits.
Without it, employees may be missing key components of your benefits program that help protect their health and financial well-being. They may choose a plan that provides them with either:
- Too much coverage, increasing their monthly salary reductions unnecessarily
- Too little coverage, exposing them to greater out-of-pocket costs throughout the year
Hold information sessions
According to Colonial Life, only 25% of employees working for small businesses have individual meetings with benefits experts, and 14% of large businesses. The same applies to group meetings:
- 37% of small businesses hold group information sessions with HR professionals
- 29% of large businesses hold group information sessions with HR professionals
Increase the value of your plan
If your employees are spending less than an hour making benefits decisions, they probably do not understand the value of what you are offering.
- Engage employees in the process: Colonial Life reports that 93% of employees who participated in one-on-one benefits counseling sessions found them valuable. They also reported being more satisfied with their jobs, had higher morale and stayed with the company longer.
- Share the cost of coverage: Don't be afraid to show employees the total cost of their benefits. Most employers cover 50% or more of their employees’ premium. Understanding how much you are paying for their coverage can be an eye-opener for employees.
- Take advantage of technology: When you combine personalized enrollment help with online tools, you offer employees the best of both worlds. They get the help they need making decisions but have access to call centers, chat features, carrier websites and employee portals when and where they need them.
Improve utilization of benefits
Most benefits communications focus on the employee. Chances are a majority of your employees cover not just themselves, but members of their family as well. Not only do we have the knowledge and tools available at Bravera to help with employee benefit education, but we also have a complimentary online benefit platform available to clients that aids in benefit education and streamlining the enrollment process.
You cannot expect employees to make decisions in a vacuum. Many of their choices affect their spouses and children. You need to include them in your educational materials.
To help bridge the communication divide between employees and their families, many companies are turning to HR dashboards. This technology provides access to information about various services and benefits available to everyone.
Through a central location, employees and eligible family members access details about benefits quickly and easily. Whether it is a link to the insurance carrier, direct access to FAQs about retirement planning or chatting online with a benefits administrator, these dashboards incorporate every HR resource available.
Some employers rely on these dashboards to complete transactions like orientation, training and enrollment. They may also serve as a distribution point for newsletters, handbooks and policies.
For more information
Working with your benefits advisor to create a communications plan that's right for your employees is the key to your success – regardless of the size of your company. They can help you draft messaging, develop a timeline and increase engagement. They can also help you find the tools to support your employees through the decision-making process.
Talk to them today to improve your team's benefits literacy.