Benefits 101: How to Help Your Employees Help Themselves When Selecting Benefits Options
There is never a bad time to assess whether your employees are getting the most from your benefits offering. In a 2016 survey conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, nearly 70% of benefits administrators said helping participants better understand and use their benefits takes up the most amount of their employee communications time. Yet, the survey also showed that nearly 31% of employees still do not perceive the value of their benefits.
Employers who struggle to communicate their benefits options to their employees may see those same employees failing to select the best options for themselves and their families. These employees won’t appreciate the value of your benefits offering because they may not be getting the benefits they need. Of course, satisfaction with employee benefits, which are a crucial component of your compensation package, can go a long way to overall employee satisfaction, which is key to attracting employees to your company and retaining the ones you have.
Here are some tips for communicating more effectively with your employees about their benefits throughout the plan year along with some guidance for helping them make better choices during open enrollment.
Provide personal HR expertise
Taking the time to make sure your employees have all the information they need and that they understand this information will increase their satisfaction with the benefits they elect. Your employee benefits provider should be able to provide you with all the tools your employees need to make good decisions, including personalized access to HR professionals to answer questions. Making sure you partner with the right benefits provider—one whose services include access to dedicated HR professionals--is such an important first step to helping your employees understand their benefits elections.
Give your employees the right questions to ask
Employees don’t always know what variables to consider when trying to decide which benefits offerings to choose during open enrollment. Many simply select the same level of benefits from year to year or they pick what looks the least expensive. The Society for Human Resource Management provides a list of questions that plan participants can ask themselves and their employee benefits provider to make sure they elect the benefits options that best suit their needs. We recommend sharing the following questions with your new employees electing benefits for the first time and all eligible plan participants during open enrollment.
- Has the prescription drug coverage changed?
- Will I be able to get coverage for my family in the coming year?
- Are the doctors and facilities I want to use in-network?
- Have we changed benefit plan administrators or insurance carriers?
- What’s new in the benefit options that might be beneficial to me and my family?
- Are there any new voluntary benefits?
- Do we have a wellness program that could potentially save me money?
- Are there benefits for alternative medical practitioners?
- What, if any, technology can I use to get information about my benefits and complete my enrollment?
Make enrollment easy
Streamlining the enrollment process through use of online self-service HR software can help ease employees’ confusion, empower them with on-demand access to their personal benefits information, and minimize stress during benefits election time.
Keep the benefits conversation going
Discussing benefits with your employees during open enrollment may not be enough. Communicating to employees throughout the year about how their benefits offering can help them plan for life events—such as a new child, accident or unexpected illness--can help them make better, more measured decisions when it’s time to enroll again.
Ongoing benefits communications often include (but are not limited to):
- Reminders to utilize unused flexible spending account funds before the plan year ends.
- Notices about formulary changes (which generally happen twice a year) to remind employees about the cost benefits of using generic drugs.
- Lunch-and-learns on voluntary benefits that are available, such as wellness programs, AFLAC, or discounted gym memberships, and encouragement to take advantage of these benefits.
- Education on retirement savings, including the employer matching contribution formula, and how to maximize the impact of employee contributions, as well as required notices, such as the participant fee disclosure notice, the summary annual report, and the qualified default investment alternative.
For more information or guidance on providing and communicating about your robust employee benefits program, TriNet is here to help.
This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.
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