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Practice Management > Marketing and Communications

5 ways to drive employee benefit participation

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Employees are happier with their employee benefits than they have been in the past several years. And this is always welcome news for employers.

According to MetLife’s 12th Annual U.S. Employee Benefits Trends Study, employees are reporting the highest level of benefit satisfaction since the survey began, which, for the most part, means company benefits programs are working on all cylinders.

But of course, more could be done.

The report finds that employees want more from their benefits and are willing to share more of the costs. In fact, 60 percent say they are willing to pay more in order to have a choice of benefits that meet their needs.

However, employees need help from their employers when choosing and understanding benefits. More than half (53 percent) agree that they need more help understanding how their benefits work and how they meet their needs.

So how can employers help employees better understand benefit options and suitability – and therefore increase enrollment even further? Read on to find out.

1. Focus on tools and tactics that matter most to employees

The MetLife study reveals concerning disconnects between the enrollment tactics employees find helpful and those tactics that employers actually provide. Employers should prioritize those tools and tactics that employees value most when mapping out an enrollment plan.

The below is a priority list employers should use to benchmark enrollment plan and identify opportunities for enhancement. (The graphic below for small- to mid-sized companies, only.)

And for companies with more than 500 employees, follow this priority list:

2. Boost communications by doing the basics better

MetLife reports that improving benefits communications remains a very important goal for 64 percent of employers – up from 57 percent in 2011. This is a good sign, since effective communication translates into increased participation. In fact, employees who report their company’s benefits communication materials are easy to understand are nearly five times more likely to find enrolling in employee benefits is simple and straightforward at their company.

The insurance company suggests employers should:

  • Simplify it: The language for many employee benefits products is unnecessarily complicated. Simplify it for easy and quick comprehension.
  • Relate it: MetLife suggests employers include “people like me” examples that employees will recognize.
  • Personalize it: Match benefits messages and materials to employees’ age and circumstances. They’ll be more likely to engage and participate.
  • Picture it: Most people would rather get their information from visual graphics as opposed to black and white text pages. Integrate visuals whenever possible, the report suggests.
  • Say it again: Keep the communications ongoing throughout the year. Sixty-three percent of employees would find continuing education about benefits helpful.

3. Deliver benefits education when and where employees want it

For many employees, it’s important to weigh benefit options at home, where they can discuss the topic with a spouse or partner. Because of this, MetLife suggests employers ensure that acess to the company benefits website is available from outside the workplace. In fact, 60 percent of respondents said they’d rather view materials at home.


4. Technology talks louder than paper

According to the report, “Employees are clear – they prefer to enroll online. Forty-one percent would prefer to enroll online compared with 13 percent who prefer a paper ballot.”


5. Get goal-oriented

According to the report, only 31 percent of employers have established measureable goals for improving enrollment and benefits communications. Those that have established measureable such goals are more than twice as satisfied with participation in voluntary benefits.

When asked which outside resources their company uses for benefits enrollment, employers responded:

  • Brokers: 39 percent
  • Insurance carriers: 35 percent
  • HR outsourcer or TPA (third party administrator): 18 percent
  • Enrollment firms: 10 percent


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