Employees’ satisfaction with their benefits has a strong correlation with their understanding of them.
Benefits can influence turnover and productivity indirectly by having a positive effect on employee buy-in to their company. Companies continue to spend millions of dollars annually on benefits without employees even realizing it. If for no other reason, then for this reason alone, an employer should be doing everything possible to educate its employees on the value of the benefit plans, as well as how they operate. Employee turnover and lost productivity — both expensive in themselves — can have a great impact on the overall profit of the company.
Two of the most common areas in employee benefits that employees are at a loss when it comes to understanding, are health insurance plans and retirement plans. Just the terminology alone can be overwhelming to them or to anyone not familiar with benefit plans.
Employers need to educate employees in a way that is clear, concise and easy for employees to understand. They need to develop communications designed to influence opinions and change behaviors — to drive the right employees to the right plans. The ultimate goal is to contain health-care costs for both organizations and their employees and to help them become good health-care consumers.
Many insurance carriers can now provide a system of unbiased health information and tools that enable users to assess health risks, evaluate treatment options and learn how to live healthier. Ideally the system would be highly visual, interactive and consumer-friendly, making it very informative to employees and family members.
When it comes to retirement plans, the goal is to increase participation and assist employees in attaining their goal of being able to retire with a comfortable nest egg.
Technology now makes benefits communication a bit easier by providing the means to do this. However, it is up to the employer to take advantage of the new technology and use it to its fullest potential. If these electronic advances are not available to an organization, then paper-based information and enrollment can also be used.
Remember: Employee communication and education should be an ongoing process for a company. A little preparation goes a long way.