The Importance of Benefits Communication

The Importance of Benefits Communication

Matt Stein

Apr 6, 2012

The Importance of Benefits Communication

Looking back on my 12 years of providing benefit solutions to clients, I have arrived at one very important conclusion.   Although my clients varied in size, industry, location, demographics, and product lines, they all had one thing in common -- when good benefit communication was available, enrollments were successful.

These enrollments enjoyed high employee participation and produced significant employee satisfaction during the enrollment process. Employees who were prepared were more confident in their ability to make effective decisions about their benefits for themselves and for their family members.

Conversely, when an employer did not recognize the importance of good benefit communication - and did not encourage or require employee participation - enrollments were less successful. Employees who were not well-informed about their benefit options often opted to not participate in their enrollment and significant employee dissatisfaction resulted. 

The impact on an employer’s bottom line, employee retention, and employee recruitment

Employers allocate a large percentage of their resources to employee benefits. This percentage has been steadily rising over the past few years. In today’s competitive climate, it is critical that employers retain current employees while at the same time recruiting top notch candidates. One way to accomplish these goals is to offer an attractive benefit plan that both employees and candidates understand, find affordable, and that provides the coverage they need.  With wages typically comparable among similar employers, a company’s benefit offering is frequently the deciding factor when selecting an employment opportunity.

The process

To build an individual benefit offering for a company requires hard work and coordination between the broker and the employer. The first step is to identify those employers – as well as the individuals within their organizations - who are the decision makers. Once these individuals are identified, the process typically involves multiple meetings, telephone calls, and information sharing.

Learning the employer’s current benefit status and projected goals – as well as matching these goals to opportunities - is a long and arduous process.  Included in the process should be a focus on the importance of benefit communication. Benefit communication begins here, because the employer who supports good benefit communication will enjoy a successful enrollment, heightened employee satisfaction, and a benefit package that will attract the most highly qualified candidates.

The chart below reflects the impact of good benefit communication on enrollment and resulting employee satisfaction: 

 

  Above-Average Below-Average1
  Benefits Benefits
With Effective Communication 83.6% 76.2%
Without Effective Communication 25.7% 22.1%

As the numbers above make evident, providing efficacious benefit communication results in a positive enrollment experience - even when below-average benefits are offered. This is proof that communication works.

Selecting a benefit communication and enrollment company

Employers want to get the best results for their investment. There is no advantage in selecting a comprehensive benefit plan and investing a large portion of the company’s resources when benefit communication is absent. Selecting a benefits communication company is critical to both the employer and its employees.

Benefit enrollment companies differ in many significant ways - both in services provided, enrollment options, and experience. Here are some guidelines to use when choosing a benefit communication company for your client.

  1. Choose to partner with a benefits communication and enrollment company that supports multiple enrollment options; for example: self-service, call center, and one-on-one benefit meetings.
  2. Select a benefit communication and enrollment company that provides licensed, highly trained, non-commissioned benefit counselors to provide your enrollment services.
  3. Analyze the services that are available. Does the benefit communication and enrollment company provide benefit booklets?  Pre-enrollment benefit statements?  Enrollment confirmation statements?  Perpetual and annual enrollment services?  Dependent audits?  On-going administration services  -even outside the annual benefit period?
  4. Is the benefit communication and enrollment company knowledgeable in the services it provides? What is their experience in the industry? Do they have systems in place for pre- and post-enrollment that can be tailored to meet the employer’s requirements?
  5. Is the benefit communication and enrollment company technologically advanced? Does it offer state-of-the-art electronic services including enrollments and data transfers to carriers and payroll departments?
  6. Trust between partners is critical to a healthy, working relationship. Choosing a firm that allows carriers to pay commissions directly to brokers reduces lag time and increases efficiency.

Good communication

Good communication is key. Poor communication results in a negative experience. Good communication - at every level - is essential to obtaining a successful result for the client, the broker, the carriers, as well as the benefit communication and enrollment company.  Everyone loses when an employer is not “sold” on the importance of benefit communication.  The employees lose when they do not receive the information they need to make informed decisions; the brokers lose out because they build their business on good results and client recommendations.  There is no doubt that effective communication leads to greater understanding and positive results.


Footnotes:

  1. Effective Employees Drive Financial Results, WorkUSA 2004/2005, Watson Wyatt Worldwide

About The Author

Matt Stein is a Regional Sales Director for WorkPlace Solutions, Inc. He has been involved in worksite enrollment for over twelve years.  He is currently married with two kids and living in Columbus, OH.  For more information, you can contact Matt by email at: [email protected].