While most organizations ramp up their benefits communications about a month before open enrollment starts, the efforts often drop off at the start of the year.
That's a shame because many employees are woefully unaware of how their benefits function and are often not taking full advantage of what their employer and they are paying for. Employees that don't understand their benefits fully may end up paying out of pocket for services that are covered.
With surveys showing that three in five employees have only a basic understanding of the benefits they receive from their employer, it's important that you continue to educate your staff about their benefits, coverage changes brought on by recent regulations and how to get the most out of their current benefits.
If you enlighten them about what they have and how to use those benefits, they will be more likely to stay with you.
Keep it going
The month or two prior to open enrollment is when most companies kick their benefits communications into high gear. They start sending their employees e-mails, mail and memos making them aware of open enrollment and that they can start researching plans.
Most companies will hold at least one meeting with the troops to answer questions and explain any changes that are being made. But after open enrollment ends, communications often go into hibernation until the prelude to the next open enrollment.
You can fill that void by regularly "dripping" information to them over the course of the year. Each drip can be a short benefits meeting or educational information that is sent out to your employees.
For example, under a Biden administration executive order, as of Jan. 15, all health insurers are required to reimburse covered individuals for up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests per month. By keeping your staff informed of developments like these, they can save money and take advantage of this benefit more fully. Here's how:
It's important that you communicate benefit developments to your staff, and that requires that your human resources or benefits team stays on top of changes.
It's the team's responsibility to proactively alert employees about changes and updates about their benefits, as well as reminders about how certain benefits work. By sending out these reminders, or holding meetings, you can educate your workers in making the right benefit and coverage decisions.
One key part of educating your employees requires tapping technology by offering an online hub that houses all of the information about each of the benefits you offer. This way, they can go to this source first if they have questions. It's also more convenient for them as they can access it in the privacy of their homes.
Many health plans now also have apps for enrollees that give them a plethora of information about their coverage, including how much they have paid in deductibles over the year and other information about their health insurance.
Plan communications for the year
Design a content calendar that focuses on putting out timely information and reminders. For example, remind employees about how their health savings account works and what they can spend the funds on.
During flu season, send out reminders on preventative measures they can take, including how their health insurance can help them get a flu shot.
Another topic could be instructions on adding spouses to their plans or notifications about Medicare for employees who are nearing 65 years old.
The key is to stay in front of your staff and always encourage them to come to your benefits team with any questions they have. One e-mail to your team could result in reminding one of them to come to you for clarification about their coverage.
By regularly communicating about your benefits to your staff, you can provide them with the confidence that they have the information they need about their benefits, and that if they don't, they know how to get it. That in turn helps them make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
And your organization will also benefit as regular engagement gives you the opportunity to better evaluate your benefits offerings and identify areas where you can improve or expand.