Employees Want Help Understanding Benefits Offered by Employers
Employers provide a variety of benefit choices to employees as part of their overall compensation package. And while employees value their benefits, research shows 85% of workers are confused about their coverage options. Ultimately, employees want help understanding benefits offered by employers. Consider five reasons why employees find benefits confusing and three ways to improve benefits education.
Why employees are confused about benefits
1. Preoccupied – Employees have many responsibilities at work and home. Often, they are distracted, thinking about how to pay their bills and many other responsibilities. They have little time to educate themselves about their benefits, which can be a problem when they need to use it.
Workers who have health needs and use their benefits tend to understand their coverage. But employees who rarely use their plans, including their preventive care benefits covered by insurance, are confused. Although they may not know much about their benefits, they want to know what their benefits cover if needed. Make online benefits education available to workers so they have access when they need it.
2. Overwhelmed — Employees appreciate the security their benefits provide to handle unexpected health needs. But many workers today are overwhelmed and stressed. They have difficulty making decisions about their health and benefits.
Employees want benefits choices, but not too many. For example, offering over 10 different benefits options can be overwhelming. Employees also may struggle to understand their benefits because the plan descriptions use unfamiliar insurance terms. They also may be confused about the specific procedures and services their plans cover.
3. Confused – Studies show that over 85% of employees are confused about their benefits. The youngest group of workers, Generation Z, often are puzzled about their plan choices and coverage options. A variety of benefits material, including videos and infographics, can help engage and educate workers in an entertaining way.
Most benefit plans have online websites and smartphone apps employees are encouraged to use. Younger employees gravitate toward using the latest technology, but older employees may not. After trying to figure out these tools, some employees may give up and contact HR for assistance. Or, they may ask coworkers or friends for help.
4. Uninformed – For many employers, employee benefits account for about 30% of their budget. But often, employees are not aware of the value of their benefits. When reviewing annual benefits options, employees tend to spend only 15 minutes selecting insurance plans during enrollment.
Often employees choose the same plans and coverage levels year after year. They don’t explore new or updated benefits that may better fit their needs and those of their dependents. So when employers introduce new or updated benefits, it’s vital to share the highlights of what those benefits cover. This way, workers can stay informed and have the opportunity to participate in a helpful new benefit or different plan.
5. Stressed – Most employees worry about their finances. In fact, about 58% of workers report living paycheck to paycheck. They struggle to pay monthly bills. In addition, many employees and/or their spouses are paying off student loan debts.
Because of these issues, employees may hesitate to spend money on benefits. Studies show workers are willing to invest in medical, dental and vision insurance. But for other voluntary coverage, they may select less-expensive options.
How employers can help
Employees expect their employers to help them understand their benefits. And while workers want this information, employers must develop a strategy to get employees’ attention. Businesses must do more than send out packets and email reminders to educate their workforce. Consider three ideas to improve benefits communication, reduce employee confusion and increase participation.
1. Tailor messages – Most employers have four (sometimes five) diverse groups or generations of employeesworking at their businesses. Each generation has different benefits needs. Employers who provide the one-size-fits-all benefits education miss reaching their employees. It explains why 80% of employers say employees don’t open or read their benefits information.
To reach employees, employers need to tailor messages to each group. The communication strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. However, employers need to identify the benefits that are significant to each group of employees. Then customize communications to catch their attention. Learn more tips for selecting and communicating employee benefits.
2. Communicate clearly – Review current benefits information to ensure the information is clear and easy to understand. Include charts, graphs and examples to explain benefits and educate employees on how to use them. Ask other employees to read the descriptions to identify confusing terms.
If possible, provide examples of how benefits have helped other workers. When new benefits are offered, explain the value and how employees can use them to support their health. Clear communication is key to keeping workers informed.
3. Survey employees – Surveying employees is an excellent way to gather feedback. Surveys allow employees the opportunity to voice their opinions and any confusion about benefits. Conduct pulse surveys as issues arise and regularly ask for input on benefits during the year.
Employers need to be aware of workers’ needs and provide the right plans and perks to keep them engaged. Remember, each worker has goals and reasons why they work where they do. Many expect their benefits to support a range of needs, from financial planning to personal well-being. After each survey, follow up with employees to say thanks and share how their responses will be used.