Make the most of your enrollment process
Annual enrollment is an opportunity to deliver positive messaging about the company’s benefit program, the company’s culture and, more importantly, how the company’s investment in benefits supports that culture. Annual enrollment is also an opportunity to train employees about how to choose and use their benefits more effectively in the spirit of a true employee-employer partnership.
When it comes to enrolling new hires in benefits, the same positive messaging should apply. Employers should consider treating the onboarding process more like an orientation experience and less like a sign-up or registration process.
What can employers do?
Identify your key messages
Messages can pertain to anything from culture to wellness to the importance of smart healthcare consumer behavior. It’s also advisable to create a message about value. This can be a presentation of total compensation or a simple value statement, such as “great employees deserve great benefits, which is why ABC Company spends more than $100M on healthcare…” or “ABC company contributes 80% towards the cost of medical insurance.”
Make benefit information easy to digest. Benefits are confusing, and there are now more plans and plan options than ever before. The vast majority of employees are not going take the time to read 20 pages of materials or go to multiple websites to learn about each plan or program, especially when they have so much else on their plates. No matter how many plan options there are, an employer should try to distill the information into a more concise resource guide or newsletter that they can present in print and/or in some online format.
Provide the right communications
Simple doesn’t always translate to easy. The best enrollment processes, whether at annual enrollment or new hire orientation, are usually the results of extra attention given to planning and executing communications around employees’ benefits options. Creating a more intentional enrollment campaign translates into greater employee satisfaction because employees who understand their benefits are more likely to appreciate the employers who provide them.
Improve benefits delivery with industry tools
Provide decision-support to employees with advanced software tools or 1:1 interactions
Decision-support software that provides employees with a recommended bundle of benefits is an especially helpful tool. Employees are given a great starting point from which to fine-tune their elections. Employees can then accept the recommendations and “checkout,” or they can edit the cart as they see fit.
Another great approach is to dedicate 30 minutes to a phone call or in-person visit with each employee. Many employers offer this service every 3-4 years to support annual enrollment, and may also set up a similar process for new hires. These are not group meetings, but individual one-to-one education and enrollment sessions. As a result of these sessions, employees understand and appreciate their benefits, make more informed benefits elections, and also learn helpful hints regarding plan utilization. All of these outcomes are positive for both the employee and employer.
Remember: The cost to recruit, hire, and train new employees is high, as is the cost of providing benefits. While a personal meeting or call with each employee during annual enrollment or with each new hire during orientation sounds expensive or time-consuming, the ROI should be a no-brainer. Multiple surveys and studies highlight the positive correlation between effective communication and employee satisfaction. For example, one survey showed that employees who felt that their benefit education experience was “fair or poor” also viewed their employer as a “fair or poor place to work.” If an employer is investing considerable amounts of money on benefits, it’s in that employer’s best interest to ensure the value of those benefits aren’t lost because of a breakdown in communication.
Don’t keep making the same mistakes in your enrollment process
Avoid information overload
You would think the opposite would be true, but it’s not. We’ve seen employers deliver huge packets of information, including insurance carrier collateral. We’ve seen benefit guides that direct employees to as many as 10 different websites they are expected to review and understand. Employers should find a way to help employees get the most essential information as efficiently as possible or they’ll lose the employee’s attention.
Don’t leave employees feeling unsupported in their benefits experience
Too often we see employers – even large, high-performing enterprises – hand over benefit information without providing resources to help the employee make smart decisions. Employees struggle with understanding the many choices that they have to make and the overall value proposition often gets lost in the process.
For new hires, don’t let benefits get lost in the busyness of other onboarding tasks
Benefits are expensive for employees and employers, so the introduction of benefits warrants some time and attention from both parties, especially new hires. Benefits are also confusing and, some would argue, a little boring. This means the employer has to find ways to keep the employee engaged. Thankfully, there are some great companies out there who specialize in providing software and services to help organizations that need direction or help with creating a new benefit orientation process.
Commit to a smarter benefits experience
Hodges-Mace has been in the industry for over 10 years. We know that one size does not fit all. Ultimately, our high-touch service philosophy and thorough approach to solving a client’s challenges results in a solution that is unique for each employer and that includes a creative blend of innovative technologies and intelligent services.
Contact Hodges-Mace today to find out how we can partner with your HR department to help you commit to a smarter benefits experience.