Meet the Speakers
VP, HR, Benefits & Operations,Health Care Service Corporation
EVP, Nielsen Benefits Group, 2021 Benefits Pro Broker of the Year
Director of Benefits, Global Total Rewards, McDonald’s
The numbers don’t lie: employees aren’t engaged with their benefits. Three in five employees don’t understand how to use their benefits, and they don’t trust their employer with their health information. As a result, companies estimate that more than half (53%) of their healthcare spending goes to waste.
The simple truth is that benefits are an afterthought for most employees — that is, until they need to use them. So, how can HR start improving employee engagement with benefits options?
That’s exactly the challenge our CEO, Amanda Lannert, posed to a panel of HR and benefits leaders during our first session at Engage. Here’s what we learned.
When it comes to benefits, we need to get back to basics
If our experts made one thing clear, it’s that we need to start with the basics when it comes to benefits engagement. Employees really don’t know what’s available to them, much less how to use their benefits or maximize their investment.
Ed observed that with everyone working remotely, there are fewer channels for information communication and collaboration. Try as we might to mimic the office virtually, the best, most meaningful, and personal form of communication is in-person.
[Communicating remotely] was a big hurdle for us. But at the same time, we believe that you choose which lens you view life through. So, we wanted to see it as an opportunity, so we’re working to figure out how we can increase engagement between employers and their employees.
Sarah noted that triaging all the employee requests has been difficult. Since the pandemic began, employees have been more open about their need for benefits knowledge.
They’re asking questions about what’s available to them. Their most common struggles are mental and financial. They’re asking about our EAP, including how many visits they get and how they can access it. They’re asking about whether we can help their spouse who lost their job — whether we have financial advisory tools, budgeting tools, or 401(k) and hardship loans.
Why is it so hard to get employees to pay attention to benefits?
What’s holding employees back from thinking about their benefits? Simply put, they’re bombarded with too many messages from too many places, and our benefits communications are getting lost in the shuffle. John Hosea says that’s why we need to communicate more often—and more clearly:
Engagement is at the heart of our strategy. We do everything we can to drive engagement…but people can’t consume or retain it all. That’s why repetition, clarity, and simplicity are so important.
It’s also important to engage employees at what John called “the moment of truth,” when an employee needs to know what benefits are available. Organizations must be prepared to make the right information available at that precise moment.
What’s next for employee benefits?
Many employers are focused on elevating the employee experience, and McDonald’s is no exception. Sarah believes that poor employee engagement stems from a lack of investment in the employee experience.
Employees often believe their employer is trying to pigeonhole them into a plan, so there’s a lack of trust. That’s why people look to their peers or managers instead of our tools. That’s why we’re going to step up our game in the experience area in 2022. It’s not about offering everything under the sun. It’s about connecting with people in the moments that matter.
John is similarly hyperfocused on the employee value proposition to maximize engagement.
I don’t think it’s that employees don’t want to engage — it’s that they don’t know how to engage because they don’t know about benefits programs. It’s about how we get better at point-in-time knowledge. We’ve got ALEX and other tools that we use to direct employees. But if they don’t know where to get those resources, we’re dead in the water. We’ve got to find new ways to get that information in the hands of our employees, whether that’s gamification or some other way that’s simple, engaging, and lighthearted.
Thank you for reading!
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