Employers’ work not done by just lining up employee benefits

Power of Two

Andrew McNeil (andrewm@arrowbenefitsgroup.com, 707-992-3789) and Rosario Avila (rosarioa@arrowbenefitsgroup.com, 707-992-3795) are senior benefits advisers at Arrow Benefits Group in Petaluma.

Read their previous columns.

For most workers, benefits are an expected part of their total compensation package. Benefits provide financial and personal value to employees and are a key factor in attracting and retaining talent.

But should an employer stop there with their benefits program? Once a program is in place, is it set it and forget it?

The short answer is, no!

Go beyond just the package

Many employers (and brokers) focus on the benefits program. Often, they don’t put much thought into the programs’ accessibility.

In other words, ensuring that a program is accessible by all employees tends to be an afterthought.

Providing an accessible benefit program is important. It promotes employee satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately retention. Retention is the “new, new” when it comes to ensuring your organization’s longevity and success. Employee benefits are a critical component of compensation and have a significant impact on an employee’s overall job satisfaction.

Accessibility empowers employees to make more informed decisions about their health and financial well-being.

Benefits programs are a large expense for an organization. Underutilized benefits are a waste of precious financial resources. Employees who can easily access their benefits are more likely to use them, leading to improved health outcomes and cost savings — a win-win for both employer and employee.

After all, your benefits program is there to promote a positive and productive work environment and support the health and well-being of employees. Well-being in the workplace is a concept brought into the spotlight by the pandemic and is highly desirable by today's workforce.

How to make it happen

Accessibility doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. These are our five top suggestions to get rolling and support your employee’s needs:

The broker: A quality benefits broker should provide services and solutions to make your benefits program more accessible to all your employees and their families. Allowing for generations, locations, educational backgrounds, cultures, and language all impact how benefits are viewed.

As an example — we enlist our Alianza Division to effectively communicate with our clients’ employees for whom Spanish is their primary language. This goes beyond simply translating materials. For these employees, explaining benefits with culturally relevant references — in addition to translations - has greatly improved the accessibility, understanding, and overall utilization of our client’s benefits program.

Streamline enrollment: Savvy employers simplify the enrollment process by making it as straightforward and easy as possible. This could include using an online enrollment platform or providing detailed instructions to help employees navigate the enrollment process. Having a dedicated broker or HR representative can also go a long way to improving the enrollment experience for your employees.

Education: One of the main purposes of benefits education is to help employees understand the value of the programs offered to them and how they can access their benefits. To meet the needs of all employees, provide your benefits education in numerous ways: written materials, informational meetings, webinars, one-on-one discussions, and online tutorials. Understanding that employees of diverse backgrounds and generations learn differently, using several educational formats and tools geared toward these various “personas” helps ensure that all employees have access to an educational method that suits their learning style.

Communication: How you communicate your benefits program affects how the benefits are accessed. As with employee education, using persona-based and culturally appropriate communication allows employees of all generations and backgrounds to receive information in a format they are comfortable with and can easily understand. Take the time to strategize this process.

For example, some employees might be more inclined toward text and video messaging. Another group might prefer email and traditional benefit guides and memos.

Most materials can be presented in multiple formats with minimal effort. A good broker should advise and assist with developing the best communication program for your specific workforce.

Feedback: Have an open and candid “dialogue” with employees. Ask for feedback to understand what’s working and what could be improved. An anonymous employee survey is effective in gathering employee opinions.

Whether you use a survey, an open meeting, or another method, gathering employee opinions will help you adjust your program to ensure it meets the needs of employees and their families.

The above steps will aid in making great strides toward accessibility so that your team has the information and support they need to make the most of the benefits offered.

This is essential to give all employees equal access. Better access promotes inclusivity, satisfaction, engagement, and improves overall performance. Presenting multiple methods for accessing and understanding benefits materials — with consideration for employees with various learning styles or languages — will result in a more engaged and productive team and better business outcomes.

Power of Two

Andrew McNeil (andrewm@arrowbenefitsgroup.com, 707-992-3789) and Rosario Avila (rosarioa@arrowbenefitsgroup.com, 707-992-3795) are senior benefits advisers at Arrow Benefits Group in Petaluma.

Read their previous columns.

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