from Frank Mengert, Founder and CEO ebm:
Employer-sponsored benefits are critical to maintaining competitiveness in the ongoing race for top talent. According to A request80% of workers said they would prefer a job with benefits to a new job with higher pay and no benefits. Another request supports these findings, with more than 70% of companies saying retention is the main reason for increasing their benefits package.
However, benefits packages only help so much when employees struggle to understand their place in the compensation package. Many employees report being unsure about their benefits offerings, particularly with them Healthcare.
Worse yet, employees are generally risk-averse to benefits, so if they don’t fully understand what’s available, they often choose the “safe” option, which can leave them with benefits that don’t meet their needs. They may end up paying more for benefits than necessary, not to mention choosing less-than-ideal options for their future.
What can you do as an employer? It’s clear that benefits literacy is an important part of employee satisfaction and engagement with benefits, not to mention overall financial well-being and maximizing resources.
Here’s how you can promote benefits literacy for more involved and employees.
Take the time to assess employee needs
A needs assessment helps you determine which employees need awareness and education about specific benefits.
For example, Gen Z employees are new to the workforce and have no real-world experience with health or wealth protection benefits. These benefits can be complex, and neither high school nor college provides adequate education on how to strategically select these benefits based on need. Without this knowledge, your employees can make blind decisions and harm their future financial health.
To conduct a needs assessment, start with the demographics of your existing workforce, job titles, roles and responsibilities within the company. Then consider which employees need to be made aware of certain benefits, such as older employees who may not understand unusual benefits or customized benefit plans. You should also consider employees who may undergo major life changes, such as starting a family, that may change their benefit needs.
Create an effective communication plan
Benefits are important to employees, but they need to understand them to get the most out of the package you offer. This includes what options are available, what is covered, and how they should choose their plan.
For many employees, a lack of awareness and education is the biggest obstacle to maximizing their benefits. Having an effective benefits communication plan may shed some light on the benefit plan for them and ensure their participation.
Different people respond to different communication methods. Agreed generational researchGen Z is a generation of digital natives. they grew up with technology and the internet. As a result, this generation has developed specific communication preferences, including a desire for online communication. They also expect quick responses when they ask a question or send a message.
That said, in the workplace, Gen Z employees prefer face-to-face interaction, which is especially helpful when it comes to benefits education.
Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, grew up before or during the digital age. However, they are comfortable with technology and prefer texting or texting using apps instead of making phone calls.
In the workplace, millennials tend to avoid face-to-face interactions, preferring instead to use online messaging apps or email to communicate with coworkers or bosses. When it comes to benefit education, using similar tools is the best way to engage with millennials, while leaving the option for face-to-face education where necessary.
Gen X, the generation born between 1065 and 1980, had access to digital technology at a young age, primarily email. Whether at home or at work, Gen X generally prefer email communication or face-to-face interactions over messaging apps.
After all, baby boomers are the generation born between 1946 and 1964. They’ve seen the phone evolve into a smartphone, although some may be comfortable with more tech-savvy communication via messaging or online platforms. In the workplace, most baby boomers prefer face-to-face communication and email over other methods.
Many workplaces have a mix of different generations, so it’s important to tailor your conversations to the employees you’re educating. Always offer employees the communication method they are most comfortable dealing with benefits. Just because a generation prefers one type of general communication doesn’t mean everyone will fit that generalization.
Also, be sure to strategize your benefits communication plan. It’s not enough to just talk about the benefits open registration. Set a schedule for when and how information is shared with employees. If questions or concerns arise during the year, make sure employees know where to look for information and where to go to get answers.
Leveraging employee benefits technology
Advantages of technology platforms for open enrollment can automate tedious tasks and processes for more streamlined benefit enrollment. From an employee perspective, it’s easier to use a single benefits portal for benefit enrollment and access information, rather than using separate websites or forms. The entire process is simpler and more seamless.
The benefits technology, which has a rules-based platform, also helps employees research and compare different plan types, carriers, coverage options, and more. Having all the essential information available to them demystifies some of the complexity of benefits and helps employees make timely and more informed decisions about the benefits that are best for them.
However, not all employee benefits technology platforms are created equal. A heavy or complicated platform will only hinder the experience of the benefits of education, so be sure to evaluate user-friendly platform options.
Use educational seminars and training workshops
Educational workshops and training seminars are great options for empowering employees to take control of their benefits education. In conjunction with regular benefits communications, these tools can be archived so employees can seek education and answers as needed, no matter the time of year, and learn about benefits at their own pace.
Be sure to include a mix of education options that help multigenerational workers learn in a way that’s most comfortable for them. For example, some people learn best in context, so include real-world examples that employees can apply to their own situation.
Some benefits technology platforms also offer options to include learning resources, such as group benefits exercises or virtual one-on-one sessions. Consider these options when evaluating benefits technology platforms.
Encourage employee feedback
Feedback is important to gain insight into your employees’ concerns as you create benefits literacy solutions. It’s important to understand what your employees need, what motivates them, and where they encounter obstacles in the benefits enrollment process.
Listening to your employees is one of the most important aspects of being a leader. When you get feedback, positive or negative, it’s an opportunity to reevaluate your approach to benefits education and create a better experience. You’ll also show your employees that you’re invested in them and their future.
There are several options for how you can ask for feedback. Focus groups help you get feedback from a cross section of your employee base through open discussions. It shouldn’t take long. Send a request for participants and schedule a few hours in the conference room.
Depending on the size of your company, one-on-one interviews are a great way to get candid and honest insights. Some employees may not feel comfortable discussing personal matters in a group setting. Prepare your questions in advance to keep meetings practical.
Another option is observation. You can track employees through testing your benefits technology usage to see how they navigate the site and if adjustments need to be made, or employee behavior during open enrollment. Do some employees make quick decisions while others seem hesitant? It’s a good start to determine areas of education that could be stronger.
Finally, surveys are a great way to secretly capture specific information from your employees, especially if you have a large company. Be sure to include open-ended questions that allow employees to point out some specific challenges they face.
Embrace a results-based approach
Without goals and a way to track them, you have no way of knowing if your education is working. Start with goals and objectives with specific deadlines against which you can measure progress. If necessary, use industry benchmarks to see how your benefits education program is performing.
Regularly evaluate your benefits literacy program to make sure it meets your goals and the needs of the employee. See which topics and segments are more successful with employees, whether in engagement or direct employee feedback. If there is any aspect of the program that is lacking, develop strategies to improve it and increase employee engagement.
Develop a strong employee literacy benefits plan
With rising health care costs and a tough job market, benefits are an important part recruiting and retaining top talent. With a benefits literacy program, you can equip your employees for success and long-term financial well-being, and maximize the resources you devote to benefits packages.
Frank Mengert continues to find success by spotting opportunities where others see nothing. As founder and CEO ebm, a leading provider of employee benefits solutionsFrank built the business by bridging the gap between insurance and technology solutions for brokers, advisors, carriers and employers across the country.