Help your employees find their way

Vic Villanueva
January 14, 2020

Benefits GPS: Help your employees this season

With a new plan year upon us, the benefits clients we are honored to serve across ROC Group are deep into the work for 2020 cycles. As we join them in upfront planning, we all find ourselves asking: Are companies putting too much emphasis on the transactional nature of benefits enrollment – and missing out on an opportunity to create more meaning around health and wellness with employees?

With constant change and rising costs at play, organizations invest seismic effort in the analysis,planning and redesign of their benefit plans each year—and for good reason. The costs and complexity of large-scale benefits management demand an enormous amount of resource from most employers. Yet, benefit teams know that sound financial management and administrative excellence are only part of the value they deliver to their employers.

Increasingly, what matters most is how benefits contribute to the employee experience.

So how does your team highlight the "benefit" of your benefits? Here are five strategic shifts we see:
  1. Visibility matters People don’t value what they don’t see. As organizations rely on one-to-one engagement with benefits (think online self-service), we’re seeing large-scale awareness and appreciation start to dip. Turn up the visibility of your plans and programs throughout the year, not just heading into enrollment season once every 12 months. Market your benefits the way Nike markets shoes, and see what happens.
  2. Surface the stories Humans are wired to understand the world in stories. Yet too few HR teams use stories to share the value of benefit programs. True, the highly personal nature of benefit interactions raise concerns about privacy. So, let employees do the sharing. Protect privacy but turn the tables: Run “share a story” exercises with your employees, and let them tell you how programs have helped their families. Or ask experienced employees what they would tell newcomers about how to make the most of benefit programs. Surface the stories to humanize the benefits.
  3. Play air traffic controller In today’s congested media world, employee attention is a precious commodity.Yet few companies coordinate employee communications in structured, intention always across all functions and stakeholders. Reach out to your communication and HR colleagues to coordinate, not compete, for employee attention throughout the year. That’s especially important as you move toward a more strategic, year-round approach to benefit communications.
  4. Honor the basics Experts in any field often assume laymen know more than they do about their work. (ROC’s neuroscience-geeks are raising their coffee cups right now: “It’s false-consensus bias!”) It happens in benefits, too. The reality is that most employees still struggle to understand basic concepts about health and retirement benefits, and that prevents them from fully using their programs, much less appreciating their value. (One study in 2019 found only about half of insured respondents picked the right definition for “deductible.” Deductibles have been around for a very long time.) Consider offering a “Benefits 101” quick-hit tutorial on YouTube, for example, or running a “Benefits GPS” channel on your intranet.
  5. Connect the dots – In a world supported by different vendors and platform plays, it can be challenging for employees to understand who does what, much less appreciate that it’s still your company paying the bill. Don’t let the supporting players take the lead, even as they play important parts. Retain top billing for your company:“Benefits brought to you by Company ABC.” “Your Company ABC Benefits: Everyday, Everywhere.” Ensure your company is the first name on the marquis. Every. Single. Time.

How does your organization move beyond an enrollment bias in health care communication? Drop us a note.

Vic Villanueva
Vic Villanueva
Managing Director
‍Vic Villanueva has spent more than 20 years helping HR teams communicate issues with sensitivity and clarity to multi-generational, multi-cultural workforces.