Benefits leaders and HR managers invest significant time and resources in developing strategies and solutions that serve the organization, their business objectives, and their employees. Understanding the impact of their efforts is essential. Too often, though, the need to measure the end results can cloud one of the issues that occurs at the outset—getting employees to use a solution. It’s important that employers take a step back and think through the entire employee experience, which begins with an adoption strategy.
An organization can have highly competitive benefits, but if employees aren’t fully aware of them, don’t have full visibility into the value they provide, or don’t want to navigate a lengthy and complicated enrollment process, adoption will suffer. This is especially true when adding new solutions, such as lifestyle or supplemental health products. Creating effective communication and education strategies, employing digital navigation platforms, and having ongoing support services can help companies smooth the path to adoption and increase employee engagement—all of which helps with the end results.
However, talent profiles have changed. Many organizations now have a multi-generational workforce, and a “one-size-fits-all” approach to employee engagement no longer works. When communicating about new benefits programs, organizations should have tailored messaging that is designed to resonate with employees on an individual or audience segment level. Doing so will help each employee realize the value of their benefits. It’s as important to break down complex issues into easy-to-digest formats and content. Even the most knowledgeable employee has limited time to navigate the benefits landscape, so making information clear and accessible is key.
Approaching Engagement in Three Phases
Roughly one-third of employees don’t understand their current healthcare plans, so having a strategy for educating and reaching your workforce is vital. Implementing a streamlined, three-step campaign for engagement can help improve the benefits rollout process and employee adoption.
The first stage of the campaign is the awareness phase—start by simply getting employees’ attention. Keeping the messaging simple and relevant, you can convey the new programs and provide incentives for them to learn more. High-quality content, such as video or online interactive pages, can create greater interest around the new products and solutions. This is just the start of a more comprehensive experience.
As employees seek to learn more, they enter the education phase of the campaign. In this case, treating the employee as a customer is important. What motivates them? What do they value? What are their preferences when it comes to communication channels and formats? Using all available data to understand your audience will help to craft customized messaging and content that’s more likely to reach them—avoiding the trap of deleted mass emails or announcements.
Employees who then enter the enrollment phase have already developed high expectations for the experience, and it’s important that they continue to receive quality interactions at this critical stage. There are several components to successful enrollment strategies:
- A digital platform—Employees used to researching their options online and conducting the bulk of their transactions digitally will appreciate the ease and simplicity of a streamlined microsite or digital platform. To make the platform useful, it should include rich content and informative modules such as frequently asked questions. Using the platform to research options can also help employees have more informed conversations over the phone or in person.
- Benefits counselors—Tackling complex decisions about healthcare and benefits is often made easier through conversations with experts. Therefore, your organization may want to consider employing benefits counselors, who can provide extensive 1-on-1 support and training. The most successful benefits counselors are experienced, certified, and trained specifically on the organization’s benefits packages. In addition, they may be licensed in Life and Health products.
- Live enrollment and decision support—Enrollment cafes, or live stations, can also help employees through their benefits journey. With live enrollment, benefits counselors help with education and navigation assistance and answer questions through a streamlined, empathetic, and high-touch process. Employees can review their final elections with a benefit counselor (often virtually) before confirming their selections, together creating a customized package which helps ensure they will get the most out of their benefits.
- Call centers—Call centers are a valuable tool before, during, and after the enrollment process. The most comprehensive call centers consist of benefits counselors, quality assurance, and management support, to serve the varying needs of employees and employers and ensure continuous improvement.
As benefits leaders seek to create more comprehensive programs, engagement and employee adoption should be at the forefront of their planning. Communication, education, and enrollment processes should be non-disruptive, effective, and efficient—and give employees the tools they need to make decisions with confidence. This in turn will help employers realize the return on their efforts.