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# Friday, October 11, 2013
How to Get Your Employees to Value Their Benefits More

How to Get Your Employees to Value Their Benefits More

 

It’s difficult for employers to quantify the ROI of their employee benefits.

 

It’s much easier to quantify the cost of offering benefits, which is high and has only been increasing.

 

As a result, many employers focus on the cost over the return. And while cost is certainly an important variable, it’s also important for employers to consider value. There are direct savings (more on this in a moment) that come from offering a competitive benefits plan and providing resources and tools that enable workers to feel confident in their benefits decisions.

 

Employers would actually be doing themselves a favor by doing more to help workers, at an individual level, get more value out of their benefits. As reported in Benefits Pro (http://www.benefitspro.com/2013/10/04/making-the-most-of-employee-benefits), the Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America’s workplace benefits study found that U.S. workers averaged a score of 6.8 (on a scale of 1 to 10) on its Benefits Value Index, a measure of the perceived value of employee benefits. That’s not terrible, but employers can increase their return for offering benefits by taking steps to increase the perceived value of their plan offerings.

 

What’s the Value for Employers?

 

Benefits are a major expense for many companies, and with all the furor over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), it can seem like many organizations wish they didn’t have to offer them.

 

Providing benefits, however, can actually boost an organization’s bottom line in significant ways. For instance, it helps with talent recruitment and retention.

 

As talent management expert Dr. John Sullivan wrote (http://www.ere.net/2013/08/19/dont-forget-the-critical-role-that-healthcare-benefits-play-in-recruiting-and-retention/), “Offering healthcare benefits is one of the most powerful attraction and retention factors on the planet. As a result, not offering healthcare benefits may turn out to be a costly business decision, especially when it drives away top potential applicants and results in the loss of your top lower-paid employees to other businesses that have suddenly become more attractive by offering it.”

 

Another way providing benefits boosts the bottom line is by making employees more productive and less prone to absence through preventive healthcare.

 

Sullivan wrote that instead of focusing on the cost of benefits, “a smarter approach is to instead work with HR and the CFO to calculate the direct economic benefits that come from the resulting increase in productivity, lower absenteeism, longer retention, and dramatically improved recruiting.”

 

What Should Employers Do?

 

The most important thing employers should do is provide benefit plan options that employees and candidates will find valuable. But it’s also imperative to communicate these options effectively and to provide employees and their families with access to benefits experts who can help them make informed choices.

 

BenefitsPro reported that a majority of workers turn to friends and family members for help making benefits decisions. These individuals tend to be less confident in their decisions and place a lower value on their benefits package. Meanwhile, those who take advantage of employer-provided educational resources and information have a more positive perception of their benefits.

 

“Therefore, giving workers access to resources that will allow them to make the best benefits decisions is a critical element in getting workers to feel more confident and satisfied about their selections,” BenefitsPro reported. “Ultimately, this raises the value workers place on their benefits.”

 

In fact, simply providing a face-to-face meeting with a benefits advisor can increase employees’ perceived value in their benefits. So can offering online benefits enrollment. According to Guardian Life’s workplace benefits study, employees who enroll online score significantly higher on the Benefits Value Index than those who use other enrollment methods.

 
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