How to Inspire Employees to Care When Your Benefits Don’t Change
Many employees approach benefits renewal with a certain amount of dread. Some have trouble understanding the offerings or the differences between them. Some are confused by industry terms like “co-insurance” and “out-of-pocket limit.” Others are baffled by the math, or don’t know enough about their own healthcare expenses to make informed decisions. It can be an overwhelming, even intimidating experience. To make matters worse, many feel they don’t have time to figure it all out before the renewal deadline.
If your benefits program has no major changes when it’s time for renewal, it can be even harder to engage employees in the process. Why should they invest time if they don’t have to? If nothing significant is changing, it will be tempting for them to maintain the status quo. Many organizations are now finding themselves facing this challenge. According to SHRM, 37% of employers did not anticipate adjusting benefits for 2021.
But it’s still in everyone’s best interests for employees to engage in the process. They may be able to save money by adjusting their coverage, accommodate new life events, get help managing new chronic conditions, and support new health goals as we come out of the pandemic. And you’ll have happier, healthier, more productive employees in the long run.
So when it’s time for open enrollment, use all the tools at your disposal to inspire employees to get involved, including these best practices:
Centralize your benefits information
A comprehensive and well-organized benefits intranet or portal can boost employee engagement by making benefits information clearer and more accessible. Having all your benefits available in one place and organizing them clearly enables employees to quickly see what’s available and what they need to do next.
Your benefits intranet or portal should:
- Have clear navigation
- Answer common employee questions
- Use simple terms to describe the benefits
- Provide definitions for industry terms
- Be complete and up to date
Provide benefits decision support
Providing decision support can be invaluable to employees, empowering them to make plan selections that better match their healthcare needs. According to recent research by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), only 37% of employees say health benefits are “very easy to understand,” leaving 63% scratching their heads. Decision support tools can help take the mystery out of the selection process by doing the math for different scenarios, showing employees the financial impact of each option, and educating them on how their benefits actually work. It’s no wonder the EBRI survey shows that “a tool to help make benefit decisions” is at the top of many employee wish lists.
Highlight anything new, however small
Even if your core benefits haven’t changed, there may be small changes employees need or want to know about. Maybe it’s an increase in employer 401k contributions, a new HSA contribution limit, pricing changes, new available tools, added wellness incentives, expanded telehealth offerings, or changes to laws, such as COVID-19 testing being covered. Highlight these new developments to help generate interest in the benefits renewal.
Consider bringing experts in
Employees often overlook and underutilize certain benefits due to confusion or a lack of understanding. Enrollment is an ideal time to address those information gaps. Take HSAs as an example. According to a new survey, 65% of respondents thought HSAs and FSAs were the same thing. Not surprisingly, EBRI research shows that employees leave a lot of HSA benefits on the table as a result, with those who participate contributing well below the maximum.
Bringing in third-party experts is an effective way to provide information that motivates employees to participate in more benefits programs. In the EBRI report, almost half of respondents say they would take advantage of advice from either a third-party benefits advisor or from an online program.
Get your message out
Now is the time to get two key messages out to your teams. The first is enrollment is an important opportunity for them to:
- Potentially save money by adjusting coverage
- Accommodate new life events, including childbirth, adoption, marriage, or divorce
- Get help managing new chronic conditions
- Support new health goals
The second is enrollment is faster and easier than ever, thanks to your organization’s efforts, whether you’ve centralized and organized your benefits information, provided decision support to help alleviate confusion, or brought in benefits experts to provide guidance and clarity.
Email can be an invaluable tool for communicating these messages, especially when you follow industry best practices like using short, engaging subject lines, personalizing the content, and timing your send to maximize open rates. Other proven approaches include using spaced repetition to reinforce your main ideas, conveying urgency by publicizing relevant deadlines and their consequences, and sharing benefits success stories through employee interviews and testimonials.
By emphasizing the benefits of participation, providing some good old-fashioned objection handling, and optimizing communications, you can inspire employees to give benefits renewal the attention it deserves.
Tango Health Can Help
Our software works to reduce the benefits learning curve and offers a centralized location for sharing helpful program information. Our tool provides early access so new hires can explore their benefits before official open enrollment begins!
Ready to strengthen and streamline benefits education? Learn more about Tango Decision Assist™.
Categorized in: Benefits Communication & Decision Support