Many employers believe that they offer a smorgasbord of benefits but their employees are sticking with meat and potatoes.
Only 36 percent of employers are “very satisfied” with company participation in voluntary benefits, according to MetLife’s 12th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study. By contrast, a record one-half of employees report being satisfied with their benefits.
The primary reason for the discrepancy, according to the study, is that employees often feel overwhelmed with the number of choices and need better education about what is available.
“According to the study, 59 percent of employees are `very interested’ in a greater variety of benefits to choose from,” said Michael Fradkin, senior vice president, markets and growth strategies, at MetLife. “However, with more choice, there may also be confusion. If employers add to their benefits offering but aren’t seeing the employee participation levels they anticipated, this may indicate a need for better benefits education and communications, rather than a lack of interest on the part of employees.”
Fradkin points to five conclusions from the survey that can help employers increase participation in voluntary benefit programs:
- Focus on tools and tactics that matter most to employees. For example, nearly 80 percent of workers in companies with more than 500 employees like to receive a personalized confirmation of their benefit decisions, yet less than 50 percent of employers provide this information.
- Deliver benefits education when and where employees want it. The best environment is at home so family members can participate.
- Do the basics better. Communications should feature simple language, visuals, messages personalized to employees’ circumstances, and be continuous throughout the year.
- Technology talks louder than paper. The study found that employees, by a wide margin, prefer online enrollment over filling out paper work. This is especially true for younger workers.
- Set goals. Employers who say they have established measureable goals for their communication and enrollment activities are more than twice as satisfied with participation in voluntary benefits than those without goals.