This article originally appeared in BenefitsPRO on May 31, 2022.
More than ever, employees are demanding more personalized and meaningful experiences in all corners of their working lives – especially when it comes to their employer benefits. Today’s employees want on-demand experiences that make them feel truly known, not only during benefits enrollment but throughout the entire year.
That need for a more robust on-demand experience that looks at employees holistically is evident in The Hartford’s experience with its Group Benefits customers – 80% of workers enrolled in benefits digitally in 2021, a percentage that has grown year-over-year for the past five years.
And while more employees are now receiving a digitally enabled experience, a gap exists between what employers think employees want and what employees are truly looking for.
“Our new research found that 71% of employers think their benefits packages are better than competitors’ offerings, yet only 55% of workers agree,” says Mellissa Wrinn, strategic portfolio lead for Group Benefits at The Hartford. “This creates an opportunity for employers to deliver the right education at the right time to help people understand the value of their benefits more effectively.”
Employers Struggle Connecting With Employees Over Benefits
En The Hartford’s 2022 Future of Benefits Study, 76% of employers reported feeling challenged in educating employees about benefits – an increase from 62% in June 2020 and 68% in February 2021. There are, however, several actions that employers can take to improve benefits conversations with employees, including:
Focus on How All Benefits Work Together, Rather Than Speaking About Individual Products
For example, with the rise of high-deductible health insurance plans, it’s important to showcase how workplace benefits such as accident or critical illness insurance can help pay for deductibles or living expenses. At the same time, it’s critical to meet employees where they are, which includes issues like mental health and overall wellness of themselves and their families.
“If you’re a parent of a child playing sports or involved in other activities, your child might break a leg or tear an ACL,” says Wrinn. “Benefits like accident insurance can help offset extra costs not covered by health insurance.”
Onboarding New Workers Is a Key Educational Opportunity That Is Often Missed
Workers often think of a new job as a fresh start. It’s a great opportunity to double down on supplemental benefits education to highlight the importance of employee benefits as new employees join the company. While it’s true that workers might not view benefits packages the same way employers do, 79% of employees say they value the benefits offered by their employer, according to The Hartford’s study.
Now Is the Time To Consider Talking Differently to Employees
Think about an employee’s stage of life and provide them with personalized education tailored to their circumstances. For example, a newly married employee might want to purchase additional life insurance or a parent with young children might want accident insurance. Meeting employees where they are in life makes them feel known and understood. It can also help them better understand the value of the benefits being offered to them.
Understand the Current Enrollment Environment
As worker expectations change, enrollment platforms now play a key role in ensuring that they have the right education and benefits decision experience. Insurance carriers also need to support a seamless benefits education experience within the enrollment platform that helps both employees and the HR and benefits professionals overseeing these programs.
Provide Education That Is Simple and Relatable
Employees want to know that their hard-earned paychecks are protected from loss. Companies need to communicate about benefits in a way that helps workers feel supported in achieving their goals. By using plain language and relatable examples in education material, employers are able to resonate with the importance and protection the benefits may offer.
“When communicating benefits, think digitally first and use education with simple and relatable language to create a stronger connection,” says Wrinn. “Also think about this in the context of retention. An employee who understands the full value of their benefits will think more carefully about making a switch.”
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