Employee Benefits

74% of Employees Confused about Health Care Benefits

By

Monica Johnson

| Jul 10, 2018

Open enrollment can strike fear in the hearts and minds of many. Because let’s face it: Benefits can be confusing – and frustrating. According to the 2017 AFLAC Workforces Report,74% of employees say there are a least a few things they don’t understand about their policies, such as their deductibles, copays or in-network providers.  To add insult to injury (no pun intended), 67% thinks reading about their benefits is long, complicated or stressful. In fact, 6% would rather hold a screaming baby. Yikes!

For HR professionals, these statistics are no laughing matter. Perhaps the reason for this confusion and frustration is a gap in communication between HR and employees. How can HR inform employees and keep them engaged? The solution is simple: educate.

According to a MetLife study, employees who find their benefits communication to be effective are more than twice as likely to say they are very loyal to their company. As an HR professional, you want to ensure that your employees understand what’s being offered and how to enroll. Not only does this make them happy, but it creates less of a headache for you later.

 Before Open Enrollment

Take a Survey

Do you know what your employees really want to know about benefits enrollment? Maybe you thought you did, but there may be more to the story than meets the eye. To find out, why not survey them?  Surveys are a great way to uncover the truth. Many times employees are afraid to express the way they actually feel. Surveys provide an outlet to express concerns anonymously. Ask them about their current satisfaction with the plan. What improvements are necessary in order for them to better understand their options? You don’t know what you don’t know until you ask.

 Start Communicating Early and Often

Once you’ve surveyed your employees, you can create a communication plan. Here’s the key: Don’t wait until the last minute to notify employees of plan changes or new options. Give them ample time to prepare by keeping the lines of communication open well before open enrollment begins. It’s important to keep employees informed of start and end dates, as well as give them access to the proper tools and resources necessary to make informed decisions.

So, what’s the best way to communicate this to your employees? Traditionally, company messages were written on break room boards or plastered on posters throughout the hallways. While these methods are still used, they’re not nearly as effective – or convenient – in the digital age. Employers who use an online platform, paired with Employee Self-Service (ESS), can send online notifications to employees, providing real-time, effective communication, especially if employees can access ESS within an app. Better yet, if the employer has a Learning Management System (LMS), HR can create a highlight video of plan changes so employees can easily understand the differences from the previous year, as opposed to skimming through a lengthy document.

During Enrollment

Once employees are aware open enrollment is approaching, you’ll need to let them know of any plan changes and new options. Previously, companies sent enrollment information through the mail. But just like a Bob Dylan song, the times they are a changin’.

According to a recent Guardian survey, web-based benefits enrollment has grown by 165% in the past five years. That same study found 61% of employees now use electronic enrollment as some part of their benefits enrollment. And of that percentage, 87% says online benefits access to saves them time, while 73% feel it provides them more control.

By furnishing employee benefit options online and allowing employees to enroll electronically, employees have the freedom to access their benefits information any time, any place. That way if they would like to discuss their options with their spouse and enroll in benefits in the comfort of their living room, they can do so.

Online enrollment is especially ideal when onboarding a new employee. The up-and-coming practice of ‘pre-boarding,’ or allowing new employees to complete required documents and tasks before day one, is a sure fire way to help a new hire hit the ground running. By allowing new employees to view their options and enroll prior to stepping through the front door, they can get a jump start on training and learning how to perform their new role.

In (Benefits) Summary …

Administering benefits, especially during open enrollment, can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. By focusing on early communication, education and personalization, the enrollment process will run more efficiently. Providing employees with the resources they need and the convenience to enroll online sets your company up for success. Your employees will feel confident, you will feel less stressed and your company will reap the benefits.

About the Author

Monica Johnson

As Paycom’s client marketing specialist, Monica Johnson utilizes a mixture of marketing and human capital management knowledge gained from years of industry experience. A graduate from the University of Central Oklahoma, Johnson has been with Paycom since 2013 and has served in numerous roles during her career with the company. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, exploring Oklahoma City and sipping coffee, while reading a good book, at one of her favorite local shops.

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