By - January 3, 2022

Why You Should Measure Employee Benefits Engagement—And How to Get Started

measuring employee engagement

Employers pay an average of $12.06 per hour worked to provide benefits for civilian workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These costs amount to 31 percent of total employee compensation for workers in private industry and state and local government.

But how many team members are using these benefits? Often employee benefits usage is a mystery to employers, but it shouldn’t be. Measuring employee benefits engagement can help you make sure your company is offering the right benefits—and that employees are getting the most out of them.

Many HR executives want to implement measurement, but it’s often difficult to prioritize for busy teams. We’ll cover why measurement matters to your company—and how to start or improve your benefits engagement measurement program.

Why measuring benefits engagement matters

According to a recent Bankrate survey, 55% of Americans expect to search for a new job over the next year, a trend experts are calling the “Great Resignation.”

In response, many organizations are focusing on employee engagement to improve retention. Tracking employee engagement is rarely straightforward because you need to capture candid, actionable feedback from team members.  

However, benefits engagement is a helpful signal for overall engagement. How your team members are using their benefits tells a story about your company’s relationship with them.

How so? Highly engaged staff members report feeling valued by their employers, and those who feel “heard and valued” have stronger morale and performance.

One of the clearest ways companies show they’re listening to and valuing their team members is by offering programs tailored to employees’ needs. Read our ebook on how to reach employees at the right time with the right benefits.

Strong usage of employee benefits can indicate that your organization offers relevant programs, that staff members are aware of these programs, and that they see the advantages of participating.

On the other hand, weak usage could suggest that employees don’t see the value in your company’s offerings. Sometimes, team members don’t know the programs exist, particularly for specialized benefits.

For example, team members may not realize their company subsidizes fertility treatments for employees or offers an employee assistance program (EAP) to defray the cost of counseling. Digging into the data helps HR teams identify where the breakdown is happening.

How measurement drives an organization’s success

Measurement offers valuable insights for workforce planning. While HR should oversee benefits engagement data, these metrics are vital to the entire organization. Understanding benefits usage helps companies identify and address competitive vulnerabilities, particularly if they employ in-demand workers.

Concrete data can be your best asset in strategic decision-making. Measurement programs:

  • give HR a bird’s-eye visibility into the company
  • position HR as an effective, cross-functional business partner
  • reinforce HR’s seat at the table as trusted counsel to the organization

Now that we’ve made the case for measuring employee benefits usage, let’s cover key principles to guide your measurement program.

Best practices for measuring employee benefits engagement

Your measurement program should be customized to the organization’s specific business needs, based on factors such as the:

  • medical cost trend
  • number of employees
  • range of benefits programs
  • number of specialized benefits
  • retention statistics

However, there are some key questions a measurement program should answer:

  • How many employees are enrolling in benefits programs?
  • Which benefits are they using?
  • Which programs have higher and lower usage?
  • Are employees using the programs as intended?
  • Are employees using the tools you offer, such as decision support, to help them choose the right plan?
  • What are your company’s actual benefits-related costs, compared to expected costs?

Going a step further, here are some best practices for effective measurement programs:

Measure benefits engagement across the employee life cycle

People need ongoing benefits education throughout their tenure with your company. Review all the touchpoints your company has with team members, starting with recruiting and onboarding. Measurement can help you identify where you need to shore up benefits marketing efforts. Discover how to spice up your benefits education.

Employees are likelier to choose the right health plan for their needs when they have access to decision support tools that help them navigate their options using real-world claims data. Here are two examples from Tango Health clients:

  • A client in the tech industry, with more than 11,000 employees, found team members were 87% more likely to choose the right plan for their specific needs when using Decision Assist.
  • A financial services client, with over 11,500 employees, found they were 42% more likely to choose the right plan for their needs with Decision Assist.

Put the engagement data in context

Compare your company’s metrics with relevant real-world data whenever possible. For instance, if your industry’s standard is for 10% of people to enroll in a spouse’s health insurance plan, it could make sense if your company doesn’t have strong spousal enrollment in its plan. But if the benchmark is 50%, it’s worth reviewing what’s behind the numbers.

Get specific about benefits usage

Along with overall engagement data, analyze the “take rate” for specific programs and desired actions within these programs. Let’s say your company offers health plan discounts for employees who complete a wellness program. You’ll want to measure the engagement for specific activities in this program, including how many people:

  • took the wellness survey
  • completed a physical exam
  • finished the coaching program
  • completed a reimbursement for a gym membership

Understanding where engagement peaks or declines can help you figure out where employees are getting stuck—and how to focus your efforts going forward. Learn how to boost low engagement with employee benefits programs.

Review employee benefits engagement trends over time

Measure engagement over time to understand trends in your workforce. You may see a shift in engagement with certain benefits. A sudden rise in EAP enrollment could signal that team members need tangible support, such as options for remote work or flexible schedules. Compare engagement year over year to find important clues on what employees want and need.

Tango Health Can Help.

Starting a measurement program helps your organization compete for and retain strong talent. Effective measurement programs are a work in progress—so focus on making improvements over time, as you find out which metrics are most valuable for your company.

The good news is you don’t have to tackle measurement all on your own. You can lean on vendors like Tango Health to gather the metrics you need. Tango Health’s benefits engagement platform connects team members with programs that fit their unique situations—and gives you data and strategic insights on your company’s employee benefits engagement. Schedule a demo today.

Categorized in: