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As open enrollment approaches, it’s time to think about the benefits your company offers — and how employees feel about them. Surveying your employees periodically is an important tool to get their thoughts; in the meantime, the Aflac Workforces Report provides a national perspective. Here’s what employees may be thinking about the benefits they get, and how you can tweak your enrollment process to help them understand their benefits even more.

Uncertainty Around Health Insurance

With rising healthcare costs and a changing health insurance landscape, employees are concerned about how they’ll access doctors and treatment — and how to pay for it. Almost two-thirds of employees said they would be able to pay less than $1,000 in out-of-pocket charges if they faced an unexpected illness or accident. In addition, more than 20 percent of employees said they had had trouble paying a medical bill, had put off a medical procedure because of costs, or have delayed going to the doctor because they can’t pay for it.

Combined with national rhetoric around repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act, employees are feeling a little uncertain about their health care. The survey found that half of employees say the biggest mystery about their benefits is what’s covered or how much they’re responsible for paying, so during open enrollment, highlight information about the health insurance by providing clear breakdowns of cost-sharing and co-insurance involved in the various plans. Making informed decisions can help employees feel like they have more control over their health care costs.

Financial Insecurity Is the Norm

In addition to health care costs, employees are dealing with a variety of other financial challenges. Whether it’s related to tuition, riding through a job loss or managing consumer debt, employees have money on their minds, and they’re looking for the benefits to help. Almost 30 percent of employees said they wished their employers offered health reimbursement accounts; 29 percent wished for home and auto insurance discounts; and 22 percent wished for scholarship or tuition reimbursement.

Voluntary benefits that address these needs are key, the survey found. Employees enrolled in voluntary insurance were “significantly more likely” to feel extremely or very satisfied with their overall package, compared to those who did not have the opportunity to purchase voluntary insurance services. At open enrollment, be sure your communications highlight your voluntary benefit offerings and how they can help.

Benefits Represent Opportunity

Benefits are linked to retention and career happiness, and understanding the costs that go into benefits can drive satisfaction. With employees wanting more from enrollment and communication, employers have a big opportunity to boost that satisfaction. Some of the findings include:

--Half of employees prefer to use websites or other online information sources during enrollment.

--48 percent prefer speaking with a benefits expert.

--At the same time, two-thirds of employees say reading about their benefits is complicated, long or stressful. “Simpler language” was among the most common responses when asked what they’d change about open enrollment.


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Winston Benefits is an HR solutions company that helps businesses enhance and optimize employee benefit plans, enrich compensation and rewards programs, and save money on benefits communication, enrollment and administration. Contact us to learn more.




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