Three Simple Ways to Energize Employees About Their Benefits


Jo Hartoyo is chief technology officer at EBenefits Solutions, which is an affiliate company of the UPMC Insurance Services Division. The UPMC Insurance Services Division also includes UPMC Health Plan, UPMC WorkPartners, LifeSolutions, UPMC for Life, UPMC for You, UPMC for Kids, Askesis, and Community Care Behavioral Health.

Surveys show that health benefits selection is confusing and stressful for employees. Getting your employees more involved in open enrollment and other benefits administration activities can pay significant dividends in reducing this negative experience.

Exhibit A: When employees are actively engaged in choosing their benefit options, they are three times more likely to be satisfied with their jobs than employees who are not actively engaged, according to a recent survey.

Exhibit B: Those who are actively engaged in choosing their benefits are twice as likely to value those benefits their employer is offering.

The bottom line? A more engaged employee is going to make better-informed benefit choices. This helps both employee and employer. The employee can potentially save thousands of dollars by choosing the right plan, and the employer is more likely to save on overall health care costs.

Here are three key ways to increase employee engagement:

1. Offer integrated tools.
It’s best to integrate decision-making tools, cost calculators and other helpful information directly into the benefits enrollment process. These tools enhance the benefits enrollment experience and provide a more interactive, engaging experience. This makes it easier for employees to evaluate options and to make the right decisions. This enhanced level of self-service has the nice side effect of freeing up your HR business partners so they can tend to higher-level strategic programs aimed at achieving an organization’s goals.

2. Provide user-friendly, Web-based technology.
Better-designed technology with simpler, more intuitive interfaces is vital for increasing employee engagement. Employees are consumers and, as
such, expect retail-like websites that are easy to use. It’s also vital to allow employees the ability to enroll in and manage all of their benefits seamlessly through a secure single-sign-on technology platform.

Also, single-page application allows you to access your benefits, claims information and Human Resource updates all on the same screen, as opposed to skipping around from screen to screen whereby each screen has a different look and feel. The one-screen approach makes navigation far simpler, more intuitive and more responsive for a better user experience.

3. Communicate with a multi-channeled approach.
A recent workplace survey found that when employees received benefits communications through their preferred channels — via print, email, onsite meetings or a combination — 70 percent were very confident in their selections. When employees didn’t receive benefits communications through their preferred channels, less than 40 percent were very confident in their selections. Overall, the study showed that when employees both receive communications and enroll through their preferred channels, they are more likely to make better enrollment decisions. They are more informed about health benefit details such as deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, and employer contributions.

At the end of the day, in order to energize and engage your employees with their benefits, you just want to make things easier for them. A basic example of this is to allow employees to enroll online. This means employees can sign up 24/7 from their home or office, and can check their selections and benefits any time. It’s also much easier for employees to compare plan options and benefit details when everything is online.

These are all simple strategies, but the payoff is huge in terms of getting employees more engaged in the process and happier with their benefit selections. This translates to higher employee retention.

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