As open enrollment season approaches, HR and wellness administrators are faced with the critical task of ensuring their workforces are well-informed about benefits.
But this basic awareness is only the first step in the cycle of benefits education that should persist year-round.
Following (and preceding) open enrollment, administrators are undoubtedly busy preparing and evaluating their benefits programs. This review process is crucial to ensuring that enough high-quality resources are sourced to meet employee needs and wants, but also that they’re sufficiently competitive in an increasingly high-stakes labor market.
However, it’s not always the benefits that need to be reevaluated—sometimes, it’s the way they’re communicated.
Evaluating an Employee Benefits Program
When reviewing and assessing benefits, employers will often get lost in the weeds of the package itself—for instance, comparing insurance policies to ensure optimal coverage.
And while these details are invariably critical to the employee experience, it can be easy to forget about the larger picture of how employees will learn about and access these benefits.
Even if an organization offers top-of-the-line benefits, it might still face low program engagement due to program silos or an unintuitive benefits platform. As such, it’s important to consider how benefits programs contribute to:
- Personalization: Today’s employees value the ability to pick and choose specific benefits that suit their unique life situations, needs, and wants. That means offering a range of options for employees to choose from to create a bespoke benefits package.
- Job Satisfaction: Job satisfaction plays a crucial role in the success of any business. While it’s not the primary goal, a benefits program should aim to improve employee morale and motivation overall.
- Retention: Retention goes hand in hand with employee satisfaction. When employees are satisfied with their benefits package, they’re more likely to stay, reducing turnover and attrition.
- Accessibility: Many benefits packages offer personalized wellness programs and incentives to encourage participation and revitalize wellbeing. Employees should have easy access to these (and any other) benefits from the start of the open enrollment period, all throughout the year.
- Awareness: It’s essential to include plans and strategies for communicating details leading up to and around open enrollment, updates to benefits packages, and important dates to keep in mind. Not only will this keep employees informed, but it also fosters employee engagement in the program.
To further tailor benefits packages and ensure they align with employee needs and wants, program administrators will often solicit feedback on program features throughout the year. For example, conducting a benefits survey is one effective way to understand an individual employee’s perspective, assess common sentiments across the company, and identify areas for improvement.
Feedback surveys offer extremely valuable insight into how an employee can best make use of company perks, helping administrators develop personalized, flexible programs that prioritize real needs. But how exactly do they work?
Conducting an Employee Benefits Survey
The goal of an employee benefits survey is to gain actionable insights that can help guide evaluations and inform decision-making on current or future benefits plans.
Moreover, some employees may not even be aware of what is included in their benefits package, so these questionnaires provide a great opportunity to remind staff of what the organization provides.
Generally speaking, employee surveys ask about individual views and perspectives on benefits programs, such as which benefits they currently use, options they like or dislike, and things they’d like to see in the future.
Essential Questions To Ask in Employee Benefits Surveys
As administrators draft and develop surveys, it’s crucial to craft each question to focus on key aspects of the benefits program.
It can also be helpful to divide questions into two categories—one pertaining to specific benefits and one posing general questions about the program and overall employee experience.
To gain insight into sentiments around individual benefits, here are 10 questions to consider:
- “How would you rate [insert a specific benefit] in terms of value and importance to you?”
- “Are you (and other family members) currently enrolled in the healthcare coverage plan?”
- “How satisfied are you with your current healthcare benefits and provider options?”
- “Are the insurance deductibles too high?”
- “How often do you use benefits like the insurance plan?”
- “How would you rate [company name]’s mental health benefits, resources, and support level?”
- “Do you receive sufficient sick leave throughout the year?”
- “How happy are you with the paid time off policy?”
- “Do you contribute to the employer-sponsored 401k?”
- “How satisfied are you with the professional development opportunities at [company name]?”
These questions can often be answered with simple “Yes” or “No” responses or on a scale to represent varying degrees of satisfaction or agreement. While this allows survey results to be more quantitative, these scale or statement-based questions can also limit specific details regarding employee sentiments.
To add greater context to employee feedback, here are 10 short answer questions to consider about the benefits program as a whole:
- “How easy is it to access and use each employee benefit?”
- “Are the benefits clearly articulated and easy to understand? Why or why not?”
- “How well were the benefits explained during training and onboarding?”
- “Are you satisfied with the quality of service from your benefits providers? What could be better?”
- “Which three benefits do you enjoy the most, and which three do you use the most?”
- “Do you believe any specific benefits improve the workplace culture? If so, which?”
- “How does [company name]’s benefits program compare to your previous employers?”
- “If you could improve one thing about [company name]’s benefits, what would it be?”
- “Is there any part of the benefits package that is still unclear?”
- “Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns about the program?”
Broader, program-related questions tend to be more open-ended, allowing employees to articulate their own responses. This can offer a keen insight into how each individual is feeling in the workplace.
Turning Feedback Into Action
Of course, insight is nothing without action. As survey results are analyzed, it’s critical that meaningful steps are taken toward improving benefits and filling any gaps that have been identified.
For example, if an employee benefits survey reveals that 70% of the workforce wants some sort of lunch perk and 50% want better health insurance, it might be more beneficial to focus on the latter. This is because it will likely have a greater positive impact on overall employee wellbeing.
As program administrators develop action plans to implement changes to benefits packages, it will be just as crucial to communicate these updates to employees.
Strategies For Communicating Employee Benefits
With open enrollment just around the corner, now is a critical time to start spreading awareness about employee benefits. But that doesn’t have to mean scheduling a big, hour-long lecture with the entire company.
Instead, there are a number of impactful ways to encourage employees to actively learn more about their total compensation.
To prepare for this coming open enrollment period, here are a few strategies to keep employees informed, engaged, and satisfied:
1. Send Email Reminders
This first strategy is likely the most popular, but it remains one of the most effective methods for communicating benefits.
Scheduling multiple email reminders prior to the open enrollment period can help boost engagement as employees become more familiar with package details. Above all else, these messages should be timely, concise, and easy to understand, so any updates, changes, and important dates can be announced as soon as possible.
2. Use Engaging Channels
While email is often the most trustworthy tool for important company-wide updates, it can be helpful to leverage multiple channels to meet employees where they are.
For example, employees who don’t work at a desk may find flyers or face-to-face meetings more effective. On the other hand, apps like Slack, Teams, or Google Chat might be more engaging and interactive for employees working on the computer or for those on the go.
3. Incentivize Completing Benefits Tasks
Occasionally, communication can only go so far—some employees may simply feel indifferent about their benefits or that they’re not worth the hassle. In these instances, it might be best to gamify benefits-related tasks, especially around open enrollment.
By offering rewards like promotional giveaways or gift cards, administrators can incentivize employees to take advantage of company benefits, whether it’s signing up for health insurance or taking part in a wellness program.
4. Communicate Benefits Year-Round
To ensure awareness doesn’t fizzle out once open enrollment is over, it’s imperative to continue communicating about benefits packages throughout the year.
While open enrollment is the most pressing time of year for educational purposes, employees can also enroll during onboarding or as a result of a qualifying life event. Regardless of when they sign up, year-round communications ensure that all employees remain informed about what their company offers and the important dates to know.
Combined with the valuable insight from employee feedback surveys, these strategies can help program administrators design better packages that not only include what employees need and want, but communicate it just as well.
If you’re looking for more strategies to enhance your employee benefits program, reach out to our team at WellRight. Our holistic approach and comprehensive wellness platform provides companies with a streamlined hub that offers easy, intuitive access to benefits information, incentives, employee engagement opportunities, and more.