Many employees do not understand the benefits that their employers work hard to offer them. According to a 2018 report, 50 percent of employees surveyed said they understand their benefits, compared to 77 percent understanding in 2015. In the 2018 State of Employee Benefits survey, 37 percent of respondents indicated their employer provided no education on benefits. Granted, benefits and health insurance has become more complex in three years, with regulatory changes, increased high deductible health plan (HDHP) implementation, and the changing individual mandate. This increased complexity, however, can be mitigated through rigorous employee education and judicious use of human capital management technology. When employees do not understand benefits (and perks, such as career development and recognition programs), they tend not to “appreciate their value” and are more likely to seek employment elsewhere.
Employee communication and messaging are important components, and I recommend a three-pronged approach to employee education: webinars, face-to-face meetings, and hotlines. Schedule one-on-one meeting to help employees and their families choose the most appropriate plans and to explain how to use those plans most effectively. Base messaging and the means of communication on the employee population, corporate culture, technological proficiency, any benefit changes, employee or management-identified need for training (examples: HSA use, prescription management, online resources, and new regulatory changes to the ACA). Work with your broker/consultant, whose job is never finished since there is always something new in the employee benefits world to teach laypeople. Taking these steps will help ensure your employees are confident in their ability to use their insurance, find providers, and estimate care.