When I applied for my first job, I filled in a paper application, mailed it with a postage stamp and hoped for the best. The little bit of information I knew about my potential first employer came from a flashy on-campus recruiting drive.

Now, job seekers have a plethora of resources to help them target potential employers. One of the best resources for information is Glassdoor. Having raised more than $200 million in institutional capital, Glassdoor has become the premier one-stop site for job seekers.

So what are candidates looking at when they research a potential employer on Glassdoor? Aside from company reviews and salary surveys, they also see benefits ratings by current and former employees of the company. The reality is three-in-five job candidates view benefits as one of their most important criteria for accepting a job, with health insurance the most important employee benefit.

But, since most employees have poor health insurance literacy and don’t understand their benefits, it is not surprising that many companies score poorly in their Glassdoor benefits ratings. In a tight labor market, this would be a huge competitive disadvantage and the death knell for a company’s recruiting efforts.

Bloomberg/file photo

How does a company improve its benefits ratings? We believe that effective employee engagement around benefits communication is the best way to improve employee appreciation and understanding of their benefits. Open enrollment is an obvious opportunity, but engagement on benefits should be a year-round process, not just a one-time event.

Fortunately, employers can engage employees in several ways, with minimal cost. Here are three of them:

1) Benefit booklets. Many employers have invested in employee benefit booklets. Light years beyond the old open enrollment handbook of carrier brochures and product applications, these are typically packaged like flashy marketing brochures that engage the employee’s attention. But the key tenet is clarity and simplicity in communication.

There are tools available that can help build these books within hours. Also, many benefit firms produce these handbooks in-house, with excellent results.

2) One-on-one benefit meetings. Another traditional but highly effective engagement strategy is one-on-one meetings with benefit counselors trained on your benefits plan. Although usually done at open enrollment, these meetings can occur anytime during the year.

Employees value the opportunity to speak with a benefits expert and numerous studies show that these meetings create dramatic improvement in employees’ appreciation and understanding of their benefits.

3) Online benefit portals. Finally, there is an interactive, high-tech option for employers who don’t like the concept of static handbooks or the logistical challenges and cost of one-to-one benefit meetings. Employee-facing, online company benefit portals are making a big comeback.

If companies are paying millions for benefits, why not invest in a modern website that is accessible 24/7/365 where your company’s HR team can tell your “benefits story” instead of letting uninformed employees do it on Glassdoor? Communications experts call this “seizing the narrative.”

Leading companies such as Salesforce, Adobe and Intuit have created their own online portals to tell their benefits story; all three have outstanding benefits ratings on Glassdoor. These sites are also used for recruiting and present benefits in the best possible light to candidates.

Don’t risk letting job candidates make decisions based on Glassdoor ratings. Go high-tech and give your employees a benefit portal window through which they can get a clear and complete look at your benefits package or go old-school with a compelling benefits booklet or impactful one-to-one benefits meetings.

Following these tactics, you’ll have more engaged employees with a better understanding of their benefits, who will give your benefits better reviews. That’s a competitive advantage any company should appreciate.

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Saravanan Chettiar

Saravanan Chettiar

Chettiar is the founder of STRIVE Benefits.