HR: Your Employees Completely Undervalue Your Group Insurance Plan
Once They Get it, They Will Hug You.
Co-Author / Partner and Practice Leader at Vita Assure
Gianna has 20 years of experience working with the payroll, HR, and finance departments of small and midsize businesses to create employee benefit plans that take into account the changing demands of the workforce.
A Certified Employee Benefits Specialist and Licensed Insurance Broker, she has worked at a leading insurance carrier, a national benefits consulting firm, and collaborated with regulatory bodies to develop a training curriculum for brokers seeking certification in group insurance and group retirement plans.
Most recently, as Co-Founder and Practice Leader at Vita Assure, she is bringing back the human touch to insurance and benefits brokerage.
Co-Author / Partner at Vita Assure
Dominic is the Co-founder and Director of Marketing and Technology at Vita Assure. He is currently utilizing his entrepreneurial experience to innovate the insurance brokerage and employee benefits world.
Over the past 20 years, Dominic worked within the software industry in various roles and later started his own SaaS software business. He founded and lead the conception, development and marketing of a web-based scheduling software for service-based businesses. He worked with a slew of small and medium sized businesses and always put support first to help clients achieve their goals.
A boring booklet and a card: that’s the extent of your costly group benefits plan.
An employee signs up for your group insurance plan which is often part of what attracts them to your company, and then it is left to them to figure out how the benefits work.
If your employees knew the extent and value of the benefits you have made available to them, they would be so excited. They would see the benefits and, more importantly, use and enjoy them.
Here’s the problem: explaining the group insurance plan is lumped on you!
You want them to get the full benefits, but you need more time and resources to train every employee. Even when you try, they don’t listen. It can feel technical and full of jargon, and you can see the employee’s eyes glaze over.
In addition – and this is a little controversial – many brokers are unequipped to help HR because they fixate on rates and quotes. Brokers tend to be reactive instead of proactive. Your benefits broker should be an ally in helping you visualize how your benefits fit into the organization’s total rewards and employer brand; and provide the tools for you to successfully engage employees rather than focus on selling you an in-the-box package.
We understand your frustrations and empathise. Creating a culture of happy and healthy employees goes beyond just offering benefits. Engaging employees through those benefits requires an additional effort, but with the cost of group insurance and retirement savings plans easily reaching 10% to 15% of payroll costs, the additional return on investment is well worth it. Cared for employees produce results.
They realise the value of their benefits
Group Insurance plans provide coverage which is not available through provincial healthcare, but few understand how private insurance complements the public healthcare system. In addition, group insurance plans offer many coverages that individuals cannot secure on their own, or at a more competitive rates with better conditions.
If your staff understand what is offered to them through their employer-sponsored benefit plan, they can access care when it is most needed, for themselves and their family members.
We hear stories regularly from frustrated HR Directors about employees who don’t understand that their group insurance plans are about more than reimbursing the cost of prescription glasses or dental cleanings.
While more elective benefits are top of mind, lesser-known benefits can make all the difference in time of need. Few employees understand the value of a Long Term Disability plan, Critical Illness insurance, or Out-of-Country Medical Emergency coverage until it is too late. Explaining these coverages in layman’s terms can deepen their understanding and value.
While the insurance carrier’s booklet can be very thorough, we recommend creating a benefit summary with visual appeal that makes employees want to read. Try to tie in the same branding as other internal communication materials to reinforce your total rewards strategy and corporate culture. Use stories and examples to put benefits into context instead of jargon and legalese.
When an employee realises the benefit of the plan they are on, they stop seeing it as merely a deduction from their pay stubs.
They are trained on how to use the benefits
Training your employees on how to access and utilize their benefits is vital.
So often, it’s the simplest things that cause a roadblock. For example, employees may need to be shown how to upload their employee drug cards to their phone. They may not know how to submit their claims online or even which website to go to in order to access the insurer’s member portal.
These seemingly basic steps can be hurdles for technologically limited employees (or those that don’t pay attention), causing frustrations and limiting access to much needed benefits.
Step-by-step guides can help, but the key to success is often repetition, ideally using different formats and different mediums. When it comes to coaching employees on how to access their benefits, it’s best to start during the onboarding process as employees’ attention and interest is generally at its peak when they are joining the plan.
Investing in getting employees set up with insurer tools and resources will change how your employees interact with the plan and increase appreciation (and save you more time, so you don’t have to explain it each time).
They can take advantage of additional perks that contribute to their overall wellbeing
In addition to the traditional insurance benefits, employees need to be made aware of the numerous complimentary programs available. Many insurers include employee assistance programs, telemedicine, and second medical opinion services in group insurance plans for small businesses.
With wellness and mental health a top concern coming out of the pandemic, these additional resources can make all the difference in helping employees access resources in their wellness journey.
Employee Assistance Programs are often underutilised but provide easy access to confidential counselling 24 hours / 7 days a week at no cost to members, as well as a series of wellness resources to assist with many of life’s challenges (divorce, budgeting in times of high inflation, better nutrition…).
With a shortage of family doctors across the country, telemedicine or virtual health applications, can save employees the trouble of scrambling to get an appointment at a walk-in clinic for many health-related issues like renewing prescriptions, obtaining lab requisitions or referrals to specialists.
Second Medical Opinion services can provide peace of mind upon diagnostic of serious illness and provide employees with expertise they may not otherwise be able to secure. These services generally also provide coaching on how to navigate the healthcare system and how to better prepare for doctor’s appointments.
Avoid information overload. Try highlighting these programs at different times of the year instead of all at once, or tie their promotion to another initiative where employees’ attention is heightened.
Employees are unaware that additional resources are available at no cost to them.
They feel valued by the company
When employees understand the value of their benefits and learn how to make the best use of them, they both appreciate their employer and feel appreciated.
Studies have shown that valued employees enjoy greater job satisfaction which leads to increased loyalty and reduced turnover. Overall valued employees are more productive. In fact, Research by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, in collaboration with British multinational telecoms firm BT, has found that happy employees are 13% more productive. From a business perspective, it makes sense to invest in happiness.