The word “engagement” gets thrown around a lot, but it may be helpful to pause and consider its meaning. In the context of company culture, engagement generally means an emotional commitment on behalf of your employees. Engaged employees care about the company, and they care about what they are doing each day. This doesn’t necessarily mean that employees are happy every second of the work week, but it does mean they are generally invested.
I would suggest that the concept of engagement also applies to employee benefits. Employees who are engaged with their benefits will have a sense of ownership over their own physical, mental, social, and financial health, in as much as these things are supported and protected by their benefits package.
Since Covid has impacted each of us in our own unique way, we believe it is important to provide a comprehensive benefit package that takes a holistic view of your employee, starting with their physical, mental, social and financial wellness. Employers should consider expanding their benefit offering to more of a cafeteria style so that employees can select the benefits that will best address their needs.
We strongly encourage leadership and HR to survey their employees this year in order to better understand the needs of your employees. As you work to keep your employees engaged it will be beneficial to know what they are being challenged by rather than deferring to the standard medical, dental, vision package. Benefits today are not a one size fits all program any longer. In many cases, surveys and studies are showing that offering benefits that address mental health concerns, disability benefits, and student loan assistance are differentiating employers in the workplace and enhancing levels of engagement.
For HR and company leadership, helping employees to engage with their benefits can be a critical part of the job.
How to Engage Employees with Their Benefits
There are a few steps HR and leadership can take to improve engagement with benefits.
- Get to know your employees. It may sound simple, yet this step is so often neglected. It does require an investment of time, but it’s an investment that can be well worth it. Knowing the employees will help you determine what they care about, how best to communicate with them, and how to ensure that your benefits messaging sparks their interest. Surveys, focus groups, and informal chats can all help.
- Develop a communications plan. Based on the insights you glean in step #1, develop a 12-month communication plan. Remember, engagement takes constant effort and initiative. You’ll want to have your messaging and methodologies ready for a full year’s worth of steady, consistent communication.
- Keep benefits accessible. It’s critical to ensure that all employees have a way to access information about their benefits, and to make decisions about their coverage, without a lot of administrative hoops or hassle. Be sure you have a system that empowers employees, allowing them to feel as though they have real, direct control over their own benefits.
- Consider workplace wellness programs. Whether you have lunchtime walking clubs or group jogs in the morning, workplace wellness programs can often help drive benefits enrollment. Use your workplace wellness programs as forums to gently remind employees about the different benefits available to them.
- Always be monitoring. Stay in touch with employees and monitor their level of engagement (as well as levels of enrollment) with your benefits packages. Engagement isn’t something you can achieve and then be done with. You’ll want to be continuously reviewing, adjusting, and tweaking your plans.
Engaging employees in their benefits not only helps you drive enrollment, but also ensures a happier, healthier, and more committed employee base. Questions? We’d love to hear them. Connect with WhiteWater Consulting at your next opportunity.