Yet they have questions and know they need help navigating their benefits options and selections — and most of them want to talk about it with a live human being.
That was one of the findings in a recent Colonial Life survey of 1,500 full-time U.S. employees. More than three-fourths of employees said they turn to other people, such as their HR department, coworkers, family members and friends, for advice. (Only 11% said they learn about their benefits online, and another 13% go it alone.)
Looking at the data a bit deeper, only 40% of employees named HR professionals as their go-to source to learn about benefits. Although that was the most popular option, it still means the majority of employees aren’t taking advantage of the person who is likely the most knowledgeable about benefits. And with all the hats most HR people wear, even they may not have the time and expertise to help employees determine their individual needs and understand the types of coverage that best meet those needs.
The result: a major gap in benefits education for millions of America’s workers.
This is especially important now as many insurance carriers roll out updated individual life insurance plans to fulfill new IRS and NAIC regulations taking effect in 2020. Some of these refreshed plans include new benefit periods, riders, rates and benefit options. The newest updated plans may offer more choice and value, but they also may be more complicated and require more education to understand all the options available. These policy changes make it more timely than ever for employees to review their life insurance needs and update their coverage as their lives and family status change.
The good news is this creates an ideal opportunity for you to consider new ways to engage with and educate your customers.
Benefits Education Meets the Bottom Line
Unfortunately, employees typically don’t invest much time in learning about their benefits options. Colonial Life’s survey found 70% of workers spend less than an hour a year at enrollment time considering their choices and making their selections. Even worse, a third say they spend less than 30 minutes learning about benefits their employer provides.
And employees who don’t understand their benefits don’t value them, or the significant investment their employer makes in them. This can be a huge problem for your clients, because lack of engagement with the benefits program leads to lower morale and higher turnover. The research showed employees who spend less than an hour considering their benefits at enrollment time are significantly more likely to:
- Feel dissatisfied in their jobs.
- Think their employer doesn’t care about them.
- Leave their current jobs within the next six months.
It’s not enough for your clients to simply offer a comprehensive, competitive benefits package. To attract and keep top talent, they also must ensure employees understand, value and participate in them. To make that investment pay off, benefits programs must be backed by an equally comprehensive education and communication program. Better education drives greater engagement — and higher participation levels that help your business succeed, too.
Here are three ways to close that benefits education gap: