Improved Communication and Adoption of GAP Coverages Critical to Long-Term HDHP Success

High deductible health plans continue to demonstrate broad appeal even as Congress attempts to pass alternative healthcare legislation. While HDHPs have proven quite effective for some of their insured, many fail to get the specific care they need. High-end health plans that offer more coverage cost dramatically more as services are expanded in every direction. But healthcare isn’t a universal issue with a universal solution.

Surprisingly, both employer and employee adoption of GAP coverages remains low. Some of the most significant voluntary benefits such as critical illness, hospital indemnity, and accident insurance are still not regularly offered alongside HDHPs, creating alarming gaps in coverage – especially for those with health issues that require periodic visits to the doctor and/or pharmacy.

Even when they are offered, employee enrollment rates are modest – a challenge for employer and employee alike. Companies that fail to offer gap coverages and leverage their adaptability as a strong employee benefit will fail to remain competitive in the long term – whether legislation changes or remains as it is today. To learn more about HDHPs, gap coverage, and employee benefits communication, contact us.

Top 3 Ways to Improve Employee Understanding of Company Benefits

Human resource (HR) benefits account for 30 percent of compensation spending in most organizations; companies seek to ensure their return in investment (ROI) is as high as possible. At the same time, employers want employees to understand and appreciate the value of their benefits package. If employees are not aware of the full range of their benefits, or don’t understand how to utilize their benefits, a lot of money is being left on the table in unused benefits.

Employers spend a significant amount of money to provide their employees with an attractive compensation and benefits package. But for some workers, understanding their benefits can be challenging, creating a situation where they do not access or fully use their benefits. And, at the end of the day, money left on the table when it comes to benefits is a lost opportunity for your employees and your company because a comprehensive benefits package increases employee satisfaction and reduces turnover. Understanding their benefits can help some employees better understand their coverage and get more from their benefits package.

Here are the top 3 ways your company HR department can help employees understand and access their benefits.

  1. Brand your company HR department

Branding your company HR department is important so that employees recognize letters from your department as vital and therefore will open regular mail, emails, app notifications, etc. sent to them at a higher rate. Whether you represent a large or small company, brand every bit of communication that is sent to your employees. Every time your employees see that brand, they will hopefully pay attention.

  1. Analyze the data

Take the time to data mine to discover the benefits that your employees tend to not use. Create a graphic that demonstrates the benefits and the corresponding dollar amounts that have been unused according to frequency (i.e. Top 10 Most Frequently Unused Benefits by Dollar Amount or some other type of chart) that helps employees clearly see the company investment they did not take advantage of in the last year. This can be a very effective way of communicating the value of lost benefits.

  1. Simplify your communication messaging

Typically, most companies communicate with employees about their benefits a couple of times a year. Especially if the communication is in the form of a super thick package of paper that includes a great deal of medical jargon that may be in the form of acronyms and terms that are difficult to understand, employee’s eyes will glaze over and the packet will be filed somewhere for later consumption, which may never happen. Increase the chances that your communication will be read by piecing your messaging out in communications that are easy to read and understand. Track your communication open rates and program enrollment rates to determine effectiveness and adjust your communications accordingly.

If your employees don’t understand or appreciate their benefits, your company is not capitalizing on the investment they’ve made as the important motivational tool it can be. It pays to take the time to implement ways to improve the perception your employees have of their total compensation. Improving their understanding is relatively inexpensive and well worth the effort.

To learn more about benefits communication, contact Chelten Consulting.

The Three W’s of Employee Benefits Communication

Employers need to realize that benefits are intimidating for most employees. While benefits are necessary, it is daunting for an employee to make decisions regarding their health and fiscal security. Many companies treat employee benefits as an afterthought. They deliver a massive booklet and expect employees to comb through pages upon pages of important information. This usually results in poor engagement and does nothing to improve employees’ understanding of their benefits package. To maximize the effectiveness of benefits communications, employers need to ensure their information is well timed, well constructed, and well planned.

Well Timed

Sending out communications requires planning and smart scheduling. If a business sends out company-wide announcements on a quarterly basis, they should not schedule benefits communications for that time. Too much information overloads employees and guarantees they will not give the information their full attention. In addition, companies should try to avoid scheduling open enrollment to conclude on a weekend. Employees will have last minute questions or need help understanding their benefits up until the deadline.

Well Constructed

If a company does not spend the time necessary to create benefits communications that provide valuable information, they cannot expect their employees to invest in it either. Content needs to be simple and relevant. For example, many companies are shifting their focus to improve employee wellness. However, telling employees to go on a short walk during their lunch break is not helpful. Employees know exercise is good for them; instead, offer information about different walking trails nearby.

Well Planned

The quality and consistency of benefits communications are more important than the quantity. Businesses should view their benefits communications as a sales pitch. Try to sell employees on why they should engage with their benefits. The layout and appearance of benefits communications matters as well. No employee wants to read a wall of text. Another element to consider is the method of communication. Some benefits communications are more effective as a text message reminder than as an email campaign.

Need more ideas for effective benefits communication? Contact the experts at Chelten Consulting.

Improve Employee Wellness with Effective Benefits Communication

Despite dramatic advancements in technology and a new generation joining the workforce, benefits communication is not adapting. Methods of benefits communication from years past are no longer working for the much more modern and tech-savvy millennials. Benefits need to support employees’ mental, physical, and fiscal wellness. Most employees want benefits that improve their life now. They do not want a benefits package that only kicks in should they fall ill.

Focus on Prevention, Not a Cure

Employees would much rather their benefits help them avoid problems rather than address them after they occur. For instance, excessive stress can cause a strain on mental health. Employees would much rather have a wellness program to help reduce stress and prevent anxiety-induced illnesses than see a professional to help them recover after the fact. While employers still need to offer traditional health benefits, their approach to wellness needs to change. Shifting the focus from treatment to prevention is vital to improving employees’ wellbeing and job satisfaction.

Benefits Communication Equally Important as Design

Offering a comprehensive and appealing benefits package that focuses on employees’ wellbeing is only half of the equation. Most employees do not understand their benefits. Many are unaware what is available to them as well. If employees do not realize what their employer is offering, they will not take advantage of it or appreciate it.

There is immense value in continuous benefits communication and leveraging technology to do so. Employers should disperse information in a timely manner so that it is relevant. Waiting until right before open enrollment overloads employees with too much information. Offering benefits information and wellness tools through an online portal simplifies the process for employees. It keeps all of the important information in one location so employees do not need to search through multiple channels. Fewer obstacles help improve engagement. To learn more about effective benefits communication strategies, contact Chelten Consulting.

Overcoming the Boring Benefits Communication Barrier

There is a lot of information new hires need to know. Onboarding processes are notorious for being dull and resulting in many glazed eyes, lack of attention, and failure to absorb the necessary information. Reducing the duration of this process as well as improving the efficacy has two primary benefits. First, Human Resources (HR) is able to disseminate important information without wasting time. Second, companies can start seeing a faster return on investment from their new hire.

Revamping Orientation Programs

HR has the important but tedious task of communicating a vast amount of information to new hires: performance review procedures, the employee handbook, and so on. HR departments often send out newsletters or create PowerPoints to address this information. Even so, many employees fail to absorb it or cannot find what they are looking for later. To overcome this communication hurdle, HR should make their onboarding process:

  • Death by PowerPoint is alive and well among many HR new hire orientation programs. It is also ineffective. Visual presentations that are not-text-heavy are much more likely to capture an audience’s attention than slides overloaded with dense sentences.
  • Taking a holistic approach can show new hires how all of the information they are seeing relates. This type of approach can connect the dots to elucidate the larger picture.
  • Cross platform. Much of the advice for HR professionals recommends communicating information in small pieces so as not to overwhelm employees. While this may be true, HR departments should also take steps to house all of the information in an easy to access and search location. Employees should also be able to access the information from any device.

Chelten Consulting understands your company needs effective information distribution strategies. Making these changes can accelerate and improve new hire benefits communication. Contact us to ensure your business is using the most effective methods of communication.

Four Critical Strategies in Combating Rising Benefits Costs

employee benefits graphicEmployers are facing ever-increasing challenges in controlling costs while attempting to offer competitive benefits. A recent study indicates that healthcare costs will continue to grow faster than inflation at a rate of over 4%.

While there’s no silver bullet in combating rising healthcare costs, there are a variety of factors that can be identified. Knowing what’s driving up your healthcare costs can help in finding ways to control these costs without gutting your benefits offerings. These include the rising costs of procedures, especially among specialists, the increasing cost and quantity of prescription medications being dispensed, the advent of newer and more refined technological aids, patient inclination to seek out rapid care, and more. But what can we accomplish with this information?

Understanding where these excess costs are coming from will allow you and your benefits advisers to identify specific coverages or elements of a plan that can be reduced or eliminated. Often the amount you save will be significant enough that some of that money can go back into the benefits system for other, less costly services. It’s certainly a strategy of balance, and of finding ways to make your dollars go as far as they can for the company and those who work within it. Four of the key benefits choices to control costs include:

1. Level-funding company healthcare costs.
2. Provide a proactive wellness initiative.
3. Use a flexible contribution arrangement (FSA).
4. Use deductible exposure mitigation vehicles (HRAs).

Does your executive team and/or HR department understand these strategies and what they offer your organization? Are you aware of which ones you’re already using? Do you know which aspects of your benefits program prove least and most effective in terms of dollars spent? These are critical questions that should be asked and answered frequently. To learn more about benefits challenges and strategies to combat them, contact Chelten Consulting Group.

Unconventional Benefits to Reduce Turnover Rate

As the economy recovers and improves, the unemployment rate continues to decline. This means potential employees are being more judicious when it comes to accepting job offers. A competitive salary is no longer enough to attract and retain talent. Employers need to revamp their benefits package if they want to maintain their workforce.

The Cost of Employee Turnover

Losing an employee is more than reduced personnel. The loss affects morale and overall productivity as well—both of which can cut into the company’s profits. Reports show that employee turnover costs the company slightly more than 1/5 of that employee’s annual salary. This includes a loss in efficiency plus the time and cost of hiring and training a new employee.

For an employee making $100,000, this equates to slightly more than a $20,000 loss. That is enough to bring start-ups to the verge of collapse and hinder small to mid-size businesses. Large corporations with employees earning significant salaries face an even bigger financial loss. While they are often robust enough to withstand the financial setback, too many turnovers can become a liability.

Innovative Benefits to Attract and Retain Employees

The obvious solution is to prevent employee turnover whenever possible. However, this can be a difficult task to achieve. One way to put your business above the competition is with a healthy benefits package featuring unique options. An example that is rising in popularity is pet insurance. This may seem like a frivolous expense but consider the facts. About 65 percent of households own a pet. These pets get sick just like humans, except the owner must pay their pet’s medical bills out of pocket. Pet insurance helps pay for these medical bills including preventative care.

Offering unconventional benefits can give your company a competitive edge over those that do not. Optional packages like pet insurance may seem odd, but they are gaining ground in the workplace. One investigative report found that 68 percent of surveyed employers offered pet insurance. Employees are comparing benefits packages, so now is the time to distinguish your benefits from the competition. To learn more about incorporating benefits into your hiring strategy, contact the experts at Chelten Consulting.

Best Practices for Successful Benefits Communication

When it comes to benefits, engaging employees is not a simple task. Adjusting benefits communication methods to address employees’ needs is a great place to start. Some benefits are universal, such as health care, but even that gets tricky. The types of coverage one employee desires can vary drastically from another employee. Fine-tuning your benefits package to tailor it to your employees’ needs is great, but effective communication drives successful employee interaction. Below are some of the best practices when it comes to clear and effective benefits communications.

Fun-Size Benefits Communication

A sure-fire way to guarantee your employees will not understand or use their benefits is to provide benefits information once a year. Mailing a booklet, emailing PDFs, and other cumbersome forms of benefits communication will fail every time. It overwhelms employees and they give up before they even begin. Instead, create year-round opportunities for employees to learn more and engage with their benefits. An online platform to manage benefits can also help. This allows employees to reference information as they need to rather than trying to sift through pages upon pages of materials.

Adapt to a Distributed Workforce

More and more employees are working from home. Some work from home a couple of days per week while other telecommute exclusively. This trend is on the rise, so employers cannot afford to exclude these individuals from their benefits communication efforts. For example, many employers hold in-office benefits seminars, but this does nothing for the employees who do not work in the office. If you have an online platform to manage health benefits, this is an excellent way to involve these employees.

Making Benefits Relevant

In the past, many organizations used a one-size fits all approach to benefits. The problem with this method is not all employees need or want the same things. Personalized benefits would be ideal, but this is too time-consuming for human resource managers to do alone. Harnessing technology can help employees find the benefits that are most relevant to them.

Even if your company offers the best benefits it can all go to waste without effective information dissemination. To ensure your organization is using the most effective methods of benefits communication, contact us.

Benefits Communication is a Marketable Campaign

Benefits often confuse employees leading them to undervalue what their workplace has to offer. Investing in benefits communication is the only way an employer can hope to improve employee engagement during open enrollment. However, many employers are uncertain how to proceed. One approach that yields success is treating benefits communication like a marketing campaign. If companies take the proper steps prior to open enrollment, they can improve their employees’ involvement with and understanding of their benefits.

Planning for Open Enrollment

One month before open enrollment, human resources teams should begin the planning phase. This includes selecting a theme and methods of communication. Some examples of communication methods include in-person meetings, printed materials, and/or a text messaging service. HR should draft any email and text communications during this phase.

Two weeks before open enrollment, HR should give employees notice of the open enrollment period. They can send out announcement emails, hang up posters, or mail postcards. One week before open enrollment, HR should send out any necessary login instructions for online portals as well as follow-up announcements with the open enrollment dates.

During Open Enrollment

Harnessing multiple channels of communication gives employees options for digesting the information. HR teams can send daily communications with small bits of information as well. For example, a daily “did you know” text message series can share new or exciting benefits that may go unnoticed in a longer form of communication. Email campaigns should include call-to-action buttons to instill urgency as well as include educational video clips explaining voluntary benefits employees may otherwise overlook.

Treating benefits communication as a marketable product can improve interaction rates during open enrollment. To learn more innovative solutions to improving employee benefits communication, contact Chelten Consulting.

Tips to Improve Benefits Communication

Human Resources professionals and employees agree: current benefits communications strategies are not working. Less than a fourth of HR professionals believe their employee benefits communication efforts are very effective. Even fewer employees feel they have enough information to make knowledgeable decisions when it comes to their benefits.

So what can an employer do to improve their benefits communications? Check out the tips below to find out.

Avoid Information Overload

If your go-to method of disseminating benefits shutterstock_136833263information is emails and stacks of printouts right before open enrollment, you need to rethink your approach. Too much information at once overwhelms and confuses employees. This leads to poor engagement and leaves many employees stumped on which benefits are best for them.

Instead, employers should distribute information year-round in small and easy to understand formats. Employers can review one benefit at a time and provide a period for employees to ask questions. By guiding them through their benefits one step at a time, you are not leaving them to muddle through a quagmire of information on their own.

Go Beyond the Written Word

Relying on emails and printouts to distribute benefits information is easy but ineffective. Most employees receive a multitude of emails on a daily basis. Employers do not want to run the risk that their employees will forget or lose these important emails.

Instead, employers should schedule meetings with their employees. This will give them the opportunity to address concerns. Some employers are even bringing in benefits experts so employees can ask their questions in a one-on-one setting.

Leverage Social Media

Internal social media platforms are a great way to communicate benefits and increase employee engagement. However, very few companies are seizing upon this opportunity. Internal social media channels can remind employees about benefits events, open enrollment deadlines, and more. The primary benefit is an increase in employee awareness about their benefits.

Many HR professionals and employers know that improving benefits communication is crucial to increasing employee engagement and understanding of their benefits. However, it can be difficult to implement these changes. Contact the experts at Chelten Consulting to learn how to improve your benefits communication strategy.