For most organizations employee benefits account for 20 – 30% of total compensation spend and studies have found that 60% of employees under value their benefits and money is left on the table. Often, this is because employees don’t know or understand their benefit offerings. And what employees don’t know can hurt them. Employees do have responsibility for learning about their benefits but employers also have a responsibility to communicate effectively. Many organizations are currently into annual open enrollment for their benefit programs. Below are some best practices for benefit offerings, open enrollment and benefit communications.
- Develop a brand for your employee benefits program that includes company name and include the brand on each and every communication. This will help the employee recognize the communication and not inadvertently toss it in the trash.
- Start early with your open enrollment communication to deliver the information piece meal instead of 1 large packet in one delivery. Some information can be delivered in advance such as Wellness Benefits or what’s changing and what’s new.
- Communicate benefits throughout the year to help with education. Plan the communications strategically to align with events such as the annual deadline to file claims for the Flexible Spending Account or promote certain wellness benefits such as GYN visits or mammography during the same month that the annual ‘Susan G Komen Race For the Cure’ is happening.
- Look back historically to what benefits employees have most frequently not taken advantage of. Put a dollar value on these and send the information to employees. This can get their attention as well as help educate.
- Deliver benefit information through various venues; Emails, home mailers, worksite meetings and online tools are examples.
- Make information available to spouses and partners who are involved in the benefit decisions. Invite them to your worksite benefit meetings and fairs.
- Make your communications marketing smart. Use the same fonts, color scheme and logos. Keep it simple but get their attention.
- Develop FAQs in advance, especially for new benefits and benefit changes.
- Adding hypothetical situations or stories are a great way to train and educate your employees on how to choose and how to use their benefits.
- Share employer cost information. Most employees have no idea how much employers are spending on their benefits. This may even help make the employee cost more palatable.
- Provide more than one healthcare plan option to your employees. One size does not fit all. Ensure that your communications include a side by side comparison of the differences between the options to help employees pick the best option for themselves and their family.
- Provide tips or a -how-to document’ to guide your employees through the steps they should take in selecting their benefit plans.
- Educate your employees on their wellness benefits. Make sure they understand what the plan offers to them for little or no cost such as 2 dental cleanings per year, 1 wellness exam, mammograms, colonoscopy etc.
- Discourage passive enrollment. Encourage employees to scrutinize all of their health plan choices for the upcoming year. For example, electing a different plan may result in less out of pocket cost. Provide them with questions they should be asking themselves such as; Have plan costs increased? Have their own healthcare needs changed? Will they be adding or removing any dependents?
- Communicate and promote the tools that are available to your employees to assist in benefit decisions such as cost calculators.
- And for 2014 make sure that you address the ACA and its impact on their benefit choices.
Employee benefit offerings can be a key part of maintaining a competitive advantage and being able to retain key employees. At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s total compensation needs and help you ensure that your compensation and benefit programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .