The truth about benefits self-service programs is that, “If you build it, they will not necessarily come.”
Employers are automating and outsourcing benefits administration to free up staff time, improve the quality of the services offered to employees, and improve the quality of data delivered to carriers and vendors.
But the likelihood that employees will actually use an automated system depends on how well organizations communicate the value of the system to managers and employees. Without a clear, concise communication program that tells employees “whats in it for them” and sets reasonable expectations, employees will revert to barraging HR with telephone calls.
When employers and benefits advisors are developing a benefits self-service communication program, the first step is to come up with a program that really meets employees needs.
An employer should start by picking an automated benefits administration vendor that knows the employers market and has worked successfully with other organizations of the employers size.
Next, system designers should analyze the employer and its employees. What are the employees like? How much experience do they and the employer have with online systems?
Factory workers in a traditional manufacturing environment are different from software engineers who sit in front of computers all day. Self-service programs that fail to provide kiosks and other “after hours” access channels for the factory workers may end up with low adoption rates.
Employees at some companies may fear that “self-service” means “no service.” If so, the self-service system team had better develop a program to show employees that they will be getting access to new services, such as 24-hour Web access to plan information, and keeping access to old services, such as support from HR call centers. This combination of sensible program design and active communications can prevent a negative reaction to change and instill confidence in the employees that the new self-service system will address their needs.