Utilization is a crucial measure of success for any health benefit or employee assistance program. Unfortunately, health insurance literacy among employees is generally low, leading to underutilization of available benefits. Employees typically select health plans based on their anticipated medical needs, opting for more affordable options when they are in good health. Recognizing the positive impact of promoting employee well-being on the company’s bottom line, it becomes crucial for employers to find ways to support their employees’ health.

The workplace is an ideal environment to promote healthy behaviors. Employee wellness programs offer several benefits, including:

  • Increasing healthy behaviors
  • Enhancing health knowledge and skills for self-improvement
  • Encouraging preventive health screenings, immunizations, and follow-up care
  • Reducing on-the-job exposure to substances and hazards that can cause diseases and injuries

A significant portion of total compensation costs is allocated towards benefits programs, with some estimates suggesting that benefits can account for up to 40 percent or more of the overall compensation package. Furthermore, benefits programs serve as a tool for mitigating financial risks associated with healthcare expenses, ensuring employees have access to necessary medical services without incurring excessive financial burdens.

To address this issue, brokers and employers must proactively educate and engage their workforce. Discover effective strategies, valuable tips for enhancing health benefit utilization, and essential considerations for brokers and employee assistance programs (EAPs) to optimize their offerings.

Tips for Increasing Utilization

By offering benefits that address various aspects of employees’ lives, such as healthcare, personal development, and work-life balance, employers create an environment that values the overall quality of life and supports the diverse needs of their workforce. Here are some tips to ensure your workforce is aware of your health benefits package and is getting the most out of them.

  1. Ensure an up-to-date employee handbook: Regularly review and update your employee handbook to provide accurate information on insurance benefits, paid time off, FMLA, ADA, and grievance procedures. A comprehensive handbook protects both employers and employees.
  2. Establish an online resource center: Create an internal resource hub where employees can access on-demand webinars, videos, presentations, guides, glossaries, plan comparison charts, and other downloadable resources. Frequently asked questions can also be included to address any confusion.
  3. Implement quarterly reminders or spotlights: Instead of relying on a once-a-year approach, maintain a regular cadence of communication to keep benefits top of mind for employees.
  4. Integrate EAP representatives into wellness fairs: Invite EAP representatives to wellness fairs to discuss services and answer employee questions. This helps normalize seeking help and encourages the utilization of EAP resources.
  5. Host expert talks and case studies: Invite experts to share case studies on how benefits were used successfully. Encourage senior leadership to showcase their experiences to promote utilization among all employees.
  6. Conduct regular surveys: Survey team members to gauge their satisfaction with the benefits they receive. Use the feedback to improve benefit selection and design. Provide a platform for anonymous questions to address concerns openly.
  7. Enhance onboarding processes: During onboarding, guide employees through their benefit options and ensure they fully understand what is available. Tailor the communication to different age groups, utilizing websites, apps, chatbots, videos, printed materials, or lunch and learn sessions accordingly.
  8. Simplify the utilization process: Minimize the steps involved in signing up or accessing benefits. Making the process user-friendly increases utilization. Gather feedback from employees to identify and address any barriers to utilization effectively.

Effective Communication of Benefits Offerings

To achieve employee buy-in, employers must effectively communicate the benefits offerings. Consider the following strategies:

  1. Highlight employee input: Share with employees how their feedback influenced the benefits program’s design. Emphasize that their needs and opinions were taken into account.
  2. Ensure transparency: Clearly communicate what data is tracked by leadership. Assure employees that EAPs cannot disclose shared information to employers due to federal law. This transparency helps alleviate privacy concerns and encourages employees to utilize the benefits without fear of being tracked or monitored.
  3. Emphasize the purpose of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): It’s essential to educate employees about the role of EAPs beyond just using them during times of illness or crisis. Highlight that EAPs are designed to support employees in maintaining a positive work-life balance and provide additional assistance when life matters interfere with their performance at work. By normalizing the use of EAP services, employees may feel more comfortable seeking help when needed.
  4. Provide comprehensive information about health insurance: When communicating health insurance benefits, go beyond simply listing the plans and copays. Help employees understand how to compare plans’ Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). Explain consistent aspects across all ACA-compliant plans, such as deductibles, balanced billing, and out-of-pocket costs. Direct employees to reputable resources, such as the Mental Health America (MHA) website, to better understand how health insurance works.
  5. Promote the value of time off: When discussing time-off benefits, go beyond providing employees with the number of hours or calculations for their paid time off. Use this opportunity to emphasize the importance of work-life balance and encourage employees to take vacations. Emphasize sick leave to prevent the spread of illness in the workplace. Describe the company culture surrounding taking time off and address how sick leave can be used to care for sick family members. By framing time-off benefits in a positive light, employees are more likely to utilize them.
  6. Highlight telework and flexible schedule options: Instead of solely outlining the policy for remote work or flexible schedules, take the opportunity to educate employees about tips and best practices for staying engaged while working remotely. Encourage communication with managers and familiarization with virtual technology tools. By providing guidance on effective remote work practices, employees will feel more confident and engaged in their remote work arrangements.

Ensuring the Right Benefits Fit for Your Workforce

To maximize benefit utilization and effectively meet the needs of your workforce, it’s crucial to tailor the benefits package accordingly. This requires a careful analysis of your workforce demographics and considerations for making necessary changes to align with their preferences. Younger employees, for example, may prioritize paid time off to maintain a work-life balance. In comparison, older employees may value retirement income plans more as they approach their later years. This understanding allows you to customize your benefit offerings to better suit the preferences and needs of different employee groups.

In addition to tailoring the benefits package, effective communication and strategic alignment of benefits offerings with employee needs are crucial. By highlighting employee input and demonstrating transparency, you create a culture of trust and engagement. Educating employees about the purpose and benefits of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) helps normalize their usage and encourages employees to seek support when needed.

By taking these steps to align benefits with employee needs, communicate effectively, and tailor offerings accordingly, employers and brokers can increase employee buy-in and drive higher utilization of health benefits and employee assistance programs. This creates a win-win situation, where employees receive valuable support, and employers foster a healthier, more engaged workforce.

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Let us help you develop an exceptional benefits solution that fosters a healthy workplace culture and prioritizes the well-being and happiness of employees everywhere. Learn more at https://archetypegrowth.com/