By Megan Runci
According to the annual Business Pulse Survey by Suntrust, 43% of employers increased benefits in order to stay competitive attracting and retaining talent. So how are you going to engage your employees? That’s the million dollar question for most employers, yet this isn’t a one-size-fits-all question or answer.
The challenge when asking employers this question as it relates to their benefits strategy is that it means something different to every company. Therefore, in order to be the superhero and provide the right engagement strategy, the first question to ask an employer around engagement is What are you trying to accomplish? Chances are, this response will be different for all employers, and can change every year.
Looking further, it’s easy to see that there isn’t one single superpower for engagement that can save all clients. Every client has their specific needs for their employee population. For some clients, engagement could be as simple as getting everyone to go online and complete their enrollment during the open enrollment window. For other clients, it could mean providing a consistent message across multiple locations and generations to ensure employees understand the benefits offered to them and their families.
Once you help a client determine what the engagement goal is for that year (i.e., what they’re trying to accomplish), then you can put together a strategy that will help them solve their needs. As mentioned, this means different things to different companies. Below are two improvement scenarios to target.
Sometimes you’ll find clients who just want to get everyone enrolled within their open enrollment window. Here, the advice for getting employees engaged would be to provide multiple ways for employees to enroll (i.e. phone, tablet, or computer) so everyone has the ability to enroll via their preferred method. This traditional self-service method is great for passive enrollment years and allows employers to electronically capture enrollment information and provide data to the carriers. The benefit of providing multiple avenues for employees to enroll is that the mobile functionality also provides employers with a channel to communicate with employees who don’t have access to a company email or computer. Having this additional feature can increase participation on the employee’s end because they can be reminded to enroll through their phone.
Educated employees are engaged employees! For clients who plan to make major benefit changes and want to ensure employees are in the correct plan, the proposed engagement strategy could be a one-on-one counselor assisted enrollment or enrollment using a decision support tool. Benefits are confusing and when you add additional plans or provide benefits at no cost to the employee, but don’t communicate it, there is no ROI in the new offerings to the employer and employee. Therefore, creating a campaign that requires all employees to either sit down face-to-to-face or by phone with a licensed benefit counselor to walk them through all their individual needs, is a great way to provide engagement across generations. If one-on-one meetings seem too far stretched for an employer, a decision support tool can really assist employees in choosing the right benefits through their benefits delivery platform. In this enrollment method, employees can learn which plans work best for their families and why. At Hodges-Mace, we have received survey comments such as “Everything was great and I feel confident in my decisions in regards to my benefits” and “ I now better understand the options that are given to me now more than ever” from both our counselor assisted and decision support enrollment methods.
To simplify, the answer to an employer’s question regarding engagement is truly a question back to the employer about what they are they trying to engage employees to do. If we ask that question, the benefits industry will be better equipped to solve our client’s challenges through technology, services or a combination of both. Employers cannot rely on their typical ways to engage their populations and need the superpowers of engagement strategies to reach their goals.
Megan Runci is senior sales consultant for Hodges-Mace. She was just named a 2019 Top 20 Rising Star by Employee Benefits Advisor Magazine. She closed $2.6 million+ in new revenue in 2018 and was named Top Sales Performer six times. She also won Comeback of the Year Award in 2018. Connect with Megan on LinkedIn.