Human Resources News & Insights

Benefits confuse 3 in 4 workers: What you can do now

One stat you’ll want to keep in mind when preparing for open enrollment: 76% of employees who make decisions about their benefits coverage say they’ve made mistakes selecting benefits options.

What’s worse: 42% say they’ve lost money because of those mistakes.

That’s according to the 2011 Aflac WorkForces Report, which surveyed 2,220 U.S. adult workers.

Clearly, employees are confused. Check this out:

  • 74% say when thinking about their benefits choices, they sometimes, rarely or never understand everything that’s covered by their policy options — particularly when it comes to health coverage, and
  • 59% of those who choose the same benefits every year sometimes, rarely or never have a full understanding of the changes in the policies each year.

What to do next

There’s still time to bolster your benefits communications this year.

Five best practices:

  • Survey your employees. Before putting together this year’s open enrollment materials, find out what caused the most problems/confusion last year by surveying workers.
  • Create an FAQ. Chances are you spend a lot of time fielding the same questions every year. Save yourself some time by taking those questions and creating a Frequently Asked Questions handout you can distribute during open enrollment.
  • Communicate year-round. Handing employees a think packet of information is overwhelming, and many just won’t take the time to read through it thoroughly. One way to get employees to absorb everything is to give it to them in bite-size chucks throughout the year. Create a blog on your company intranet and use it to post one short (500 words max) educational article every week or so. You’ll also want to post a glossary of benefits terms on the intranet — but even with it, you’ll want to make sure you use benefits jargon sparingly in your communications.
  • Explain healthcare reform. Not much has happened with healthcare reform this year, but employees are still hearing about it through the media. Keep them abreast of what’s going on — even if you have to say, “Nothing’s going on.” The aforementioned blog would be a great place to do this.
  • Promote cost-cutting tactics. More employers say they’ll push more health insurance costs onto their employees in 2012. To ease the blow, explain how they can keep their out-of-pocket costs down — by switching to generics, participating in wellness programs and taking advantage of flexible spending/health savings accounts. This can ease a lot of the frustration associated with health benefits and help employees make decisions about their options more clearly.
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