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.

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.

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.

Benefits Communication: Marketing Benefits to Employees

shutterstock_174875483 - CopyOpen enrollment is right around the corner and employees are as confused as ever about their benefits. Almost half of employees report that making health insurance decisions are very stressful. This is in large part because they find the open enrollment process to be complex and baffling. There are also issues when it comes to employees understanding their benefits. While most know details like their deductible size, only half know their out of pocket maximums or what their employer contributes.

Even so, there are many approaches a company can take to reduce the stress of open enrollment. However, that only addresses half of the issue. Social media has left its mark on how employees approach benefits communication. It is not uncommon for people to rapid-fire communicate using 140 characters or less. There is greater access to information than ever but diminished attention spans make it difficult to absorb the knowledge.

Consumerism also affects how employees want benefits presented to them. HR teams need to market benefits selection to a mobile-centric audience. For example, companies can present benefits in a similar manner to shopping on amazon. This is more likely to improve the benefits selection process than a wordy internal email. The process needs to be instinctual, easy, and fast. HR teams need to deliver mobile communication for an impatient audience while providing an adequate amount of information so employees can make informed benefits decisions.

Your company must keep up with benefits trends and adapt to modern employee benefits expectations. Modernizing your approach to employee benefits communication is not a simple overnight fix. To learn more about optimizing your benefits offerings, contact the experts at Chelten Consulting.

Benefits Communication Is Going Social

social-imageMany companies struggle to adequately communicate their benefits. Using clear language and investing in one-on-one consultations can help improve employee participation. However, there is a surprising new way to communicate benefits: social media.

Internal Social Media Platforms

This does not mean businesses are taking to Facebook and Twitter to disseminate benefits information. Instead, they are investing in internal platforms that mimic social media. Social media inherently fosters communication. By having an internal social network, HR can communicate benefits information in a more digestible format than email.

Email is Out

The rise in popularity of social media-type apps is largely due to a dislike of email communications. Email is impersonal and easy to ignore. While most employees are not disregarding benefits emails on purpose, it is easy to flag it as important and forget it. This causes HR and deadline difficulties. Having a social platform that encourages back-and-forth communication can help alleviate these issues.

Messaging Platforms

Not all companies have the ability to integrate full social media platforms complete with message boards, image uploading, and wall feeds. There are smaller scale solutions that offer similar benefits. Inter-department chat programs allow new employees to ask questions about their benefits. This gives veteran staff and HR employees an opportunity to respond with their knowledge and develop new connections. This is superior to email due to its immediacy. HR leaders can also use chat apps to update staff about new benefit options, upcoming benefit-related events, and staff changes.

Before embarking on a new social platform, HR should ensure company leaders are on board. Research shows that employees are more likely to use these social platforms when their bosses engage with it as well. To learn more on how to modernize and improve benefits communication, contact Chelten Consulting.

The Importance of Optimizing Benefits Communication Strategies

shutterstock_304857650Communication between insurers, employers, and employees is vital – it is the essential tool in maximizing efficacy, value, and plan satisfaction. Employees make the most of their health plans when they fully understand the type and extent of coverage available. This includes knowing where and when and how they can access information about their policy. Failure to communicate in an effective and timely manner leaves employees confused, frustrated, and dissatisfied, leading to a decrease in perceived value.

One of the most cost-effective steps an HR department can take in improving cost, utilization, and efficacy of benefits plans is to improve communications. This means meeting employees on their terms – making information available through audio, video, and print. Making the information available online, 24/7, and compatible with all major electronic devices is also crucial. Employees should never have to guess or wait to find out which doctor visits are covered, and to what extent. An employee should never have to guess which doctors are in-network or which medications have higher co-pays.

What steps has your HR department taken to modernize and optimize employee benefits communication techniques? To learn more about new strategies in this area, contact us.