Commercial Insights

“The Most Wonderful (And Important) Time of the Year”

By Chris Lokken | Johnson Financial Group

4 minute read time

So, how many of you started singing that familiar tune right about now?

Your annual open enrollment is the best time of year to improve employee perceptions of current benefit offerings. Use this time to think outside the box, grab your employees' attention to increase their understanding and appreciation of the benefits offered.

Let's face it, the last couple of years have been challenging to navigate, both in terms of benefits communication and employee engagement. In a recent survey1, about 1 in 3 employees left their current position because the benefits program did not align with their needs.

As you refine your planning for the rest of this year and into 2022, you must look to "mix it up" and get creative with your benefits education and open enrollment communication.

Let's look at some simple ways to make this year's process the best and engage your employees.

Multiple Forms of Communication

  • Think beyond clever emails and benefit systems by leveraging other mediums such as YouTube, text messaging, and maybe even TikTok. In our technology-driven world, it is easier than ever before to connect with your employees. These platforms are a great way to grab your employees' attention and get them engaged.
  • Focus on key strengths in your benefits but keep the message light! 
  • Also, be mindful of having the "traditional" benefit meeting. Staffing shortages, business demands, employees still working from home, and other realities in our working world make it necessary to have multiple forms of that communication process to get your message out. 
    • Virtual meetings, virtual one-on-ones, recorded video, and presentations all can complement or, in some cases, replace that "traditional" benefit meeting.

Work to Tell The "Story" of Your Benefits

We have all been there! We get so focused on getting the technical messaging correct that we overexplain and lose the message.

Did you know that the most misunderstood term in health benefits is coinsurance?2 The term coinsurance is always used in benefits presentations; however, there is a disconnect in what coinsurance means and how it can impact an employee's out-of-pocket costs when they use the plan.

Instead of just giving your employees the technical definition of coinsurance, try telling the story of how your insurance plans work, using relatable examples combined with a bit of humor. This approach will help you bring the value of your benefits program to life while educating and training your employees on maximizing their benefits and minimizing their costs.

We all love a great story! Focus on telling one about your benefits program.

Meet Your Employees Where They Are

Your annual enrollment is also the time to put new benefit programs in place. As the makeup of benefit offerings continues to evolve, two critical areas of focus continue to emerge:

Financial Literacy & Wellness

  • In a recent PwC survey, 63% of employees indicated that their level of financial stress has increased during the pandemic.3 
  • In that same study, 87% of employees indicated that they want help in this area, with 88% taking advantage of financial wellness and literacy programs when offered.

Mental Health

  • One in five employees experiences some form of mental health issues, and 60% do not seek treatment.4 
  • 72% of employees want their employer to champion their mental health and well-being.5

Employers have numerous options to provide financial and mental wellness benefits to their employees, so set goals for what your offering should look like and find the right partner for your needs.

If you can focus on evolving your process with these tactics, you can increase the engagement level of your employees and help them better appreciate the investment that you make in benefits for them.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to benefits communication and education with five distinct generations in the workforce. Each of these different generations learns differently. You also compete with social media and a 24/7 news and information cycle for your employees' attention. So you need to think outside the box and get creative. Some "experiential learning" will happen using this approach, as not every tactic will work for everyone. That said, keeping your focus on improving your process and breaking the status quo is vital.

Here's to the "Most Wonderful (And Important) Time of the Year to showcase those great employee perks that your organization offers!

SOURCES:

[1] Randstad Study, June 2021

[2] Urban Institute Study, March 2021

[3] PwC 10th Annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey 2021

[4] NAMI

[5] Mental Health America

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Lokken

Chris Lokken

AVP Employee Benefits Consultant | Johnson Financial Group

As Assistant Vice President, Employee Benefits Consultant, Chris utilizes a proactive, consultative approach when working with clients to develop insurance benefit plans for their employees. His strategic, innovative style enables him to customize plans that benefit each client’s business while enhancing benefits to employees.