5 Tips to Help Employees Maximize Their Group Benefits

If some of your employees don’t fully utilize the group benefits and perks that attracted them to your company in the first place, it could be time to reevaluate how you communicate and promote your benefits during open enrollment season – and year-round.

In this article, we’ll explore five useful steps your business can take to improve employee utilization of group benefits to heighten employee engagement and continue to attract promising job prospects.

5 Tips to Help Employees Maximize Their Group Benefits

Leverage Employee Feedback & Assess Needs

Before implementing a strategy to help employees take advantage of your business’ group benefits, consider conducting surveys to gather honest feedback about which benefits employees rank as high priority and how they would like their options to be presented to them. Sometimes this process of soliciting feedback yields unexpected results, but it also grants your HR staff and leadership the chance to adapt policy to ensure your benefits align with employees’ stated needs. This process isn’t always about identifying (and then offering) new benefits, either. You may identify an offered benefit that is infrequently utilized, which can be eliminated, reduced, or replaced by a more appealing alternative. 

Starting with employee feedback brings all of your staff into the decision-making process and promises to improve company culture, increase employee trust in company leadership, and lead to more informed benefits selection for employer and employee alike.

Highlight Benefits Options During Open Enrollment (and Year-Round)

Once you’ve developed a group benefits strategy based on employee feedback and financial viability, it’s best to present and emphasize the details of your employer-sponsored benefits at least a few weeks before open enrollment. Later in this section, we’ll explain why you should also develop ways to promote group benefits year-round, including during the hiring and onboarding of new employees.

During open enrollment, employees are able to make meaningful choices or changes regarding their benefits, especially health insurance, so be sure you accurately communicate all deadlines, open enrollment dates, contact information for the HR professionals employees can contact with questions, and provide any necessary assistance with using your enrollment system.

To find out more about how HR software can help you streamline and simplify the presentation, enrollment, and management of benefits for your employees, visit our recent article on the 5 Benefits of Using HR Software for Enrollment Season. 

In order to ensure that your employees keep group benefits in mind throughout the year, consider providing an annual brochure (digital or print) that offers a comprehensive view of group benefits outside of open enrollment season. Highlighting benefits and perks at least every three months through email, employee newsletter, or other announcements, is another great way to engage with employees.

To complement this approach, consider permanently integrating benefits and perks education into your hiring and onboarding processes. You can do this by giving new hires the comprehensive guide we mentioned above, as well an outline of out-of-pocket costs, instructions regarding enrollment, FAQs, and guidance on the online sign-up process. Finally, you might consider creating a “Resources” section on your company intranet to grant employees year-round, 24-7 access to office news and benefits-oriented resources that keep them informed of changes.

Creating Interest: Host a Benefits Fair and Design Contests

Many businesses struggle to improve benefits utilization, but when your HR professionals are empowered to dedicate select periods of time to market and promote your company’s benefits and perks, it can make a noticeable difference in employee engagement and satisfaction.

As just one example, more and more companies are holding benefits fairs to showcase their group benefits and perks to existing or prospective employees. By setting aside even a single day to raise awareness about attractive but underutilized benefits and perks, employees can gain a deeper understanding of the ways the company supports work-life balance, and the concrete ways they can take advantage of group benefits offerings. If the benefits fair incorporates additional “event-only” perks like catered food and drinks; contests to win gift certificates; or other incentives, it is likely to improve participation and can even serve as an on-site team-building opportunity.

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Implementing Annual Processes - Reviewing HR Expenses and Audits 

In terms of annual processes, your HR department should consider conducting two annual audits – one purely financial and one strategic -- to assist with benefits policy development. The financial audit should determine the past year’s budgetary allocation towards benefits and what percentage was used. The strategic audit should analyze how effective efforts to promote group benefits were in the past year, and how market trends in benefits and perks could inform modifications to policy in order to meet or exceed market competition for talented job prospects. Bringing your HR professionals into these conversations is crucial, because you can quickly determine which questions, issues, or concerns most frequently came up for employees as they evaluated or utilized benefits in the past year.

Simplify and Streamline Benefits Promotion 

Employees will respond best to benefits promotions that incorporate colorful visuals, succinct language, and a breakdown of the total rewards your company offers through benefits and perks. Similarly, when it comes to the actual enrollment process, simplicity is essential. The less steps involved in signing up, the more likely you are to attract and sustain engagement and utilization as a result.

Also, always put benefits features into an applicable, real-life context. Whether it’s an employee who might need to utilize paternity leave in the coming year or a potential job prospect who is weighing multiple offers, be sure to concretely demonstrate how your benefits can help them manage shifting lifestyle circumstances and make informed decisions for the future. Employee testimonials can also go a long way to show the practical value of the benefits and perks packages your company has implemented.

Lastly, remember to be transparent in your explanations of out-of-pocket expenses. If you give employees the necessary tools and information to consider the impact of deductions, deductibles or other out-of-pocket expenses, you show your investment in helping them make the right financial decision for themselves and their families.

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Develop an Effective Benefits and Perks Program with Workforce PayHub

With so many considerations to keep in mind as you choose the best benefits and perks strategy for your business, it’s important to rely on experts in human capital management and benefits administration to help with the process. Workforce PayHub takes the frustration out of benefits enrollment by placing your employees in the driver’s seat, providing a self-guided enrollment process that’s as simple as Review, Select, Enroll!

Ready to improve your group benefits utilization and keep your employees engaged? Contact us today to start our collaboration.

Eric Jones
The Timeline for Selecting New Benefits and How We Can Help 5 Benefits of Using HR Software for Enrollment Season
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