Are you struggling to help your employees see the value in the benefits you are offering? Are you seeing low participation and engagement? Are your employees leaving for companies with lesser or inferior benefits? Are they complaining about wanting more benefits?
I have participated in thousands of benefit enrollment meetings and have seen all levels of employee engagement throughout all different industries. I have seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t in maximizing the engagement and comprehension of the value of your employee benefit offerings.
One of the top reasons why many employee benefit plans fail to engage or build value between an employer and employee comes down to the attitude of the owner and/or business. Are you currently treating benefits like a huge hassle or burden? Do you offer benefits only because of ACA requirements? Are you frustrated with the rising cost of offering benefits to your organization? Do you rush through open enrollment and put as little emphasis on it as possible just so you can check it off your to-do list? Do you feel like benefits are not important enough to disrupt your day-to-day operations?
My first recommendation is to check your attitude before anything else. Your attitude and how you feel about benefits will determine what value your employees see. Your attitude will be reflected in your employees’ attitudes.
I recently had a case that was a notable example of this concept—how the attitude of an owner or organization is vital to employees being engaged in their benefits options.
This was a case I took over from a previous agent who had implemented a voluntary benefits program but had seen lackluster results. At first, I was skeptical to take on this client, but my assistant had scheduled the strategy meeting, so I went in with the expectation that I was probably going to pass on taking them on as a client. The prospective client was from the restaurant industry, which typically has high turnover, low wages, and employees who often do not understand or value benefits.
I then had the privilege of meeting the owner of a fantastic family-owned pizza joint. I quickly discerned that the owner had a heart and passion for her employees’ best interests. Being in the restaurant industry does not always allow for opportunities to provide extensive benefits, but this restaurant owner was doing everything she could to give her employees access to benefit options. She had low turnover and maintained great relationships with her employees.
During the open enrollment meeting for their voluntary benefits, the owner gave a passionate endorsement of the available benefits, encouraging her employees to understand their insurance options and urging them to take the time to consider the options further.
When the enrollment was complete, the number of participants had TRIPLED! Employees were excited about the benefit options and truly felt the owner was doing everything she could to make options available to them. The owner’s attitude was a key factor in this success. Her confidence and positive attitude transferred to her employees. Her energy resulted in a high-level of engagement and perceived value from her employees.
During your next open enrollment, regardless of the products you are offering, follow these important steps to maximize the value of the benefit options your company is making available:
1. Have a positive attitude – A positive attitude is a MUST. Be proud and confident of the value you are bringing to your employees.
2. Communicate – Take five minutes at the beginning of your benefits meetings to explain WHY this is important to your company and WHY the employees are important to your organization.
3. Support Staff/HR, Broker, and/or benefit communicators – Make sure anyone assisting with the open enrollment for your company is clearly communicating the value and objectives and attitude you want your employees to experience.
4. Repeat steps 1, 2 & 3 consistently – Don’t let one annual 30-minute meeting be the only time you communicate the value of your benefit options. Consistent communication about your total compensation package throughout the year helps keep your employees feeling secure and safe about you as their employer. Check in frequently to make sure your objectives are staying authentic and genuine.
Adding this component to your next enrollment fits within every business’s budget, and the impact on employees’ overall perception of the employer and benefits offered will result in higher satisfaction for everyone.
Anna Hoobler is a principal owner of Seattle Benefits Consulting, a boutique, hyper-local agency that is passionate about helping employers find dynamic solutions to balance their business objectives and their employees’ needs to create sustainable, long-term employer/employee relationships. Anna has participated in thousands of open enrollments during her career, which has given her a unique insight on behaviors, trends, and products that can maximize employee engagement and satisfaction on every business budget. To learn more about our business, visit us at www.SeattleBenefitsConsulting.com If you are looking for strategies to take your employee benefits to the next level and optimize your results, please reach out to Anna at Seattle Benefits Consulting at 206.556.2993 or firstname.lastname@example.org