Using benefits administration technology to engage your employees

Andrew Brickman

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Ever wonder if your workforce is paying attention to your employee benefits education and communication efforts? They are.

A recent “Study of Employee Benefit Trends” published by MetLife revealed the importance of communicating health and welfare benefit plan information to a workforce. The study reported higher levels of loyalty among workers whose employers provide effective benefits communications. Moreover, a majority of those employees also expressed higher satisfaction with their benefit programs as well as overall job satisfaction.i

If you’re like most employers, you facilitate employee benefits communications by offering enrollment meetings, easy-to-read benefit summaries, and hanging posters to publicize new or changing programs. While these are all important components of employee education and should be a part of your communication strategy, many organizations aren’t taking advantage of the most effective tool to distribute and reinforce messages—benefits administration technology. Technology is extremely useful in automating many of the tactical components of benefits administration while it also enhances your education and communication strategy.

We all know benefits are confusing and employees often have a tough time understanding plan options and the implications of their selections. Confusion can lead to choices that may not be the most beneficial to the plan participant, and consequently, neither you or they receive the best value from your program.

The learning process should happen well before an employee sits down to select a plan option. By leveraging technology to further the education process, you can reinforce information both before and at the point of enrollment. Also, if spouses are involved in the benefits decision-making process, they can log in to receive important messages, leading to a better understanding of your programs and enrollment options.

There are several ways that benefits administration technology can help you advance the employee education and communication process. Some systems have video capabilities where you can record enrollment meetings, post presentations, or even create a customized video. You can embed these components and trigger them to auto-play at critical points during the annual enrollment process. For example, if you have a message you would like to reinforce, you can set it to play as soon as the participant logs into the system. Or schedule a short informational video to play at the point of enrollment. These are all great ways to publicize benefits options or promote a valuable incentive.

Sophisticated benefits enrollment technology uses artificial intelligence (also known as avatars) to communicate with employees. Avatars are easier to customize than videos and can even be used in conjunction with payroll data to give participants a customized view of their benefits. Some platforms even offer paycheck modeling, which gives employees the ability to determine the impact of specific benefit elections on their pay checks. A decision support tool helps users estimate how they would use benefits and then offers suggestions for plans that will meet their needs.

Technology can be used to engage employees who are too impatient or too busy to attend an educational meeting. A platform can communicate hard-to-understand concepts in short, easy-to-digest vignettes. With the use of online storyboards, you can create a fun and interactive medium to simplify confusing and difficult-to-grasp benefit concepts. There are also technologies that allow you to create custom FAQs. The idea is to make it easy for your employees to learn about and use their benefits to their best advantage.

Remember, communication is key to a successful benefits program, and employees appreciate hearing about a topic that’s so important to their health and financial peace of mind. A recent study by the American Psychological Associationii ranks benefits right behind salary and work-life balance as the motivation for employee loyalty. With the high level of importance that benefits play in attracting and retaining talent, it’s all the more reason to place employee education and communications at the center of your benefits program.

Using a benefits information system will never replace your enrollment meetings, benefit books, posters, or other traditional ways of educating employees about your program offerings. But technology can be used to reinforce your messages at critical points and assist employees in making better decisions.

You invest a lot into your group employee benefits. Technology can be another way for you to help your employees maximize that investment.

iMetLife, (2011); Study of Employee Benefits Trends: A Blueprint for the New Benefits Economy.
iiAmerican Psychological Association and Harris Interactive (2012); Workforce Retention Survey.

 


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