5 Tips to Increase Employee Benefit Utilization
Most health, wellbeing and benefits leaders say benefit utilization numbers aren’t as high as they want, yet 72% of employees report being interested in wellness/wellbeing programs that reward healthy behaviors. And 69% say that having a wider array of benefits would increase loyalty to their employer [Source: 2020 MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Study].
So why aren’t employees taking advantage of the programs they claim to be interested in? One of our clients summed it up perfectly, “If I had a nickel for every time an employee said, I had no idea we had that benefit, I had no idea we had that program, or cool, how long have we had that?”
According to Virgin Pulse’s Wellbeing Works survey, over 80% of employees don’t know where to find benefits available to them. This can make all of your hard work feel like it’s for nothing and negatively impact your benefits utilization numbers.
Our experts have helped organizations in a variety of industries address this challenge. Here are 5 things they say you should do to increase employee engagement and improve benefit utilization:
1. Communicate to Encourage Employees Year-Round
Employees expect to receive a rush of communications around open enrollment, but it is important to continue communication throughout the year. Start with reminders on the benefits available to them and how to use them. Then, create momentum with time-based messaging that aligns with your programming (for example, promote the nurseline before cold and flu season). Consider appointing wellness gurus to help to drive employee awareness and make it fun by building a culture focused on wellbeing.
2. Take a Multi-Channel Approach
COVID-19 has forced HR to go beyond traditional communications methods, like hanging wall posters and hosting in-person meetings, to distribute benefits information. Running multi-cycle, multi-channel camapigns that use text, IVR, email, and direct mail in a coordinated way, will help you better reach your employees and ensure that your messages are heard. In fact, independent research has found that using 4 or more communication channels together can increase engagement by 300%, driving higher value out of the benefits you’ve invested in.
3. Use Incentives
What’s better than completing your daily workout or hitting your step goal? Being rewarded for it! We recommend offering employees incentives like gift cards to complete targeted actions, like getting their annual flu shot, selecting insurance benefits or getting a preventative screening. Financial incentives like gift cards are popular among older and younger employees alike, but intrinsic rewards like badges or extra paid time off are good motivators too. It’s no wonder programs that offer incentives see a measurable lift in employee engagement. In 2020 alone, Virgin Pulses’s employer and health plan clients awarded a staggering $97M in incentives for participation in wellbeing programs.
4. Leverage Data & Analytics
If a message around benefits isn’t personalized, it becomes noise. Over half (56%) of employees told us they get irrelevant support, and 82% said they would increase participation with personalized support. With the right types of data (hint, hint: consumer data) and predictive analytics, like what Virgin Pulse offers, you can deliver a personalized experience by leveraging insights about which employees prefer text message vs. a phone call and who may need help managing their diabetes or is at risk of missing their annual wellness visit. Personalization is the key to getting employees to pay attention and encouraging them to take action.
5. Keep it Organized
Most employer benefit plans consist of multiple websites, apps and logins, making it harder than it needs to be for employees to remember and manage. Invest in a benefits hub that houses all of your employee benefits in one central location and only requires one login. Employees are much more likely to take advantage of what you offer if they can easily access it. Bonus – this will also make it easier for you to manage!
If you are struggling with how to manage your benefits and employee wellbeing program, and increase utilization rates, Virgin Pulse can help. Our benefits hub provides a single destination for total wellbeing programs and rewards, personalized to the individual to drive actions that matter.