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.

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.

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.

Three Elements of an Attractive Benefits Package

Finding and retaining talent can be difficult in today’s competitive job market. Having an attractive benefits package is a major component to hiring quality candidates and reducing employee turnover rates. But what makes for a quality benefits package? New research shows offering high-value benefits, investing in benefits awareness, and focusing on solutions for the future are vital to a healthy benefits package.

High-Value Benefits

Benefits considered to have high value by employees are healthcare, retirement, and leave benefits. Some employees consider this combination of benefits to be of equal importance to their job’s salary. While this may seem odd, there is a good reason for it. Many companies are not in a position to offer substantive annual raises. If prospective employees know they can only anticipate a 1-1.5% annual salary increase, compensation loses some of its appeal. This is because a 1% raise will not have much of an effect on the employee’s day-to-day life while their benefits can. While businesses must remain competitive with their salaries, they should also ensure they offer attractive options for these high-value benefits.

Invest in Benefits Awareness

Many employees do not understand their benefits. If they do not realize the worth of their benefits, they will not view them as valuable. Human Resource professionals should make it their mission to educate employees on why their benefits matter. While many employees understand the worth of health insurance package, they may be unclear on other benefits such as flexible work options or comprehensive wellness plans.

Planning for the Future

For 2017, businesses should focus on tailoring their benefits packages to their particular workforce. What is appealing to a major tech company may not make sense for an import/export business. Some benefits are evergreen and should always be a part of your business’ overall benefits package. These include healthcare, retirement planning, flexible work, and paid leave. Include unique and voluntary benefits such as student loan repayment plans, pet insurance, or critical/long-term care. Businesses should learn what is important to their workforce, and modify their benefits package to meet employees’ needs.

To learn more about benefits solutions, 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.

Reducing the Stress of Open Enrollment

laptopsOpen enrollment intimidates many employees. They are unsure of which benefits to choose and they often lack confidence in their final decision. Employers can improve the open enrollment experience by making a few changes.

  • Clear benefits communication. The majority of employees do not understand their employer’s benefits. Employers should use clear language to explain the offered benefits. This helps explain the value of the benefits and the positive effects it can have on the employee’s life. Employers should also be sure to explain the difference between their traditional medical insurance benefits and voluntary benefits.
  • Benefits customization. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates certain health coverage requirements that employers must provide. However, many employees desire the ability to customize their healthcare to meet their current life needs. Plus, having the ability to pick and choose supplemental benefits increases their loyalty to the company. This is often referred to as GAP coverage or Group Supplemental Health plans. These plans help to fill in the gaps of traditional coverage.
  • Support tools and resources. Employers should provide a variety of methods to disperse benefits information. Examples include a website, an app, and consultants that employees can meet with one-on-one. Having multiple methods of access to benefits information allows employees to choose the resource that they are most comfortable using. The focus, however, should be on one-on-one communication with a health benefits consultant. The majority of employees are most comfortable choosing health benefits after consulting with an expert face-to-face.

Reducing the stress associated with open enrollment can improve employee participation and benefits satisfaction. Employees who understand their benefits have more confidence in their final decision as well. To learn more about improving employee health plan satisfaction and employee morale, contact us.

New Benefit Micro-Webinar: Private Exchanges and GAP Coverage

new private exchange model video tileGroup Supplemental Health plans – called “GAP” plans – are used to fill in holes in high deductible health plans (HDHPs) offered to workers today.  They’re similar to the “Medigap” supplemental insurance plans millions of Seniors purchase each year to fill in holes in Medicare parts A&B.

These plans are considered “excepted benefits” under ACA meaning that they operate outside many of the rules of Obamacare.  They are offered only as supplements to existing major medical plans and only cover certain inpatient and outpatient deductibles and coinsurance costs.

Most GAP plans cover neither the professional fees in a doctor’s office nor the costs of outpatient prescription drugs.  Because of this, Advisors generally recommend Employers purchase at least a Bronze major medical plan with doctors office and prescription copays to complement any GAP plan.

Learn more about how GAP coverages and basic private exchange plans combine to provide employees with newer and better solutions:

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.