As a small business employer, employee benefits can be your competitive advantage when it comes to retaining top performers and attracting new talent. In many cases, benefits are more attractive than cash alone: According to a 2015 Glassdoor survey, the majority of employees (79 percent) said they would prefer new or additional benefits over a raise. Unfortunately, research shows that many employees do not take full advantage of their employer benefits – and that does both them and the company a disservice. Don’t let your investment go to waste. Here are six steps to get employees at your small business to use their benefits.
Step 1: Make sure they understand their benefits. In a recent survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, only 19 percent of employers said their employees have a high level of understanding of their benefits, and 50 percent don't understand the employee benefit materials. Educate employees on an ongoing basis with regular communication. Make sure you go over what benefits are available to them, why they are valuable and how they can take advantage of them.
Step 2: Communicate year-round. Don't just wait for re-enrollment to roll around to talk about benefits. Provide regular communication - in a variety of forms (regular emails as well as printed mail sent to their homes) - to remind employees to take advantage of their benefits. Consider hosting webinars, town hall meetings, and lunch and learns, where employees can ask questions and voice concerns.
Step 3: Create a resources hub. Give employees access to benefits resources 24/7 with an internal resources hub, where employees can get access to on-demand webinars and videos, PowerPoint presentations, PDF guides and other downloadable resources. Provide a list of frequently asked questions to clear up an confusion employees may have around benefits.
Step 4: Spotlight specific benefits. Once or twice a month, send out company-wide email newsletters that highlight a specific benefit. This will serve to remind employees that they have it and educate them on how to take advantage of it.
Step 5: Take advantage of technology. Consider investing in benefits administration software, such as Workterra. Not only will it save your HR team time and frustration managing benefits and doing paperwork, it will empower employees to take control over their own benefits. With Workterra, employees can manage their benefits online easily and get access to resources that help them understand (and make informed decisions about) their benefits.
Step 6: Ask for feedback. If you’ve tried everything and employees still aren’t taking advantage of benefits, it may be that you aren’t offering the benefits they actually want. Don’t let your investment go to waste. Survey your employees to ask which benefits they like, use, don’t like and/or don’t use, and which ones they would like to have. See if there are areas where you could cut back on benefits they care less about to make room for ones they do have.
Remember: Any time you talk to your employees about benefits, take the opportunity to remind them that these benefits exist for them. Reinforce the message that you’ve invested in these benefits because you’re invested in them, and that you care about their health, wellness and work/life balance. As a result, it will reinforce their trust in the organization and strengthen their loyalty to you, their employers.
Still working on your employee benefits strategy? Learn about 9 Competitive Benefits for Small Businesses.