Employees pay thousands of dollars for their benefits. Yet, they struggle to answer basic questions like the name of their dental or vision carriers! A common frustrating experience often involves a visit to a dentist where the employee didn’t know who offered her dental insurance and has to frantically call HR. Tales of unhappy employee experiences with benefits have become the norm.

Also see:Top 10 employee incentives.”

Employers and brokers have tried to help by issuing wallet benefits cards that list all benefits-related information. Benefits portals are created and introduced at open enrollment. However, employees don’t engage with these tools and don’t know they even exist. So how can a broker or employer help? Here are some quick tips:

Saravanan Chettiar.

1) Jazz up that open enrollment meeting. For most employees, these are dreary affairs. “Let’s spend 10 minutes here and get out ASAP.” That’s the prevailing view of these meetings. Well, what about jazzing up these meetings? Bring in lunch, start with a funny video about how boring benefits can be, tell a joke or two, or maybe give three Starbucks gift cards to lucky employees. The most innovative companies are doing this. So why not you? The more creative your approach, the better the engagement.

2) Introduce quarterly benefits check-ins. Why not spend 5-10 mins every quarter with your employees and ask them about their benefits experience. Think about it: A decent chunk of your annual budget goes to benefits, so shouldn’t you think about the ROI of your spending? Use this time to learn about their frustrations or happiness with their benefits. Sharing of ideas is going to create downstream positives for other employees who might be listening in. If you are a broker, use these opportunities to visit your clients and interact with employees. It will pay off in spades.

3) Implement only the best benefits tools. Benefits technology is another area where sub-optimal experiences have become the norm. Employees engage with Facebook or Snapchat every day, while their benefit enrollment tool — if they even have one — looks like it was built in 1995. Make sure your benefits tools work. Make sure they look good. And shouldn’t you be where your employees are — their phone? Think about new mobile-based engagement technologies that proactively alert employees to their benefits at times of need. Introducing quality tools shows employees HR cares. And that can go a long way.

For too long, improving engagement with benefits has been a challenge only tackled by America’s largest employers. But it’s no longer a Herculean task. Using innovative strategies like those above, millions of companies can effectively engage their employees around their benefits. Sometimes, doing the simple things can yield outsized returns.
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Saravanan Chettiar

Saravanan Chettiar

Chettiar is the founder of STRIVE Benefits.