In many organizations, the benefits conversation occurs once a year, at open enrollment time. Interim conversations take place only when there is a life event – marriage, a new baby – that changes things. There is, however, plenty of room for regular communication with employees about benefits – communication that can take place by leveraging a benefits administration platform. Effectively using a ben admin platform as a communication tool can help employers increase employee engagement, improve company culture, and lift morale. It even has the potential to lower healthcare costs. That’s because an employee who’s educated on how they can make better health decisions is more likely to actually make those better health decisions. Let’s look at some areas where there are opportunities to keep employees engaged and returning to a company’s platform on a consistent basis.
Health Benefit Decision Support
Because benefits related to healthcare are such a large part of the benefits portfolio, and are such a critical area of employee concern, health benefit information is a good place to start. There are many different types of decision support tools that could (and should) be incorporated into a benefits platform – tools that will be extremely valuable to employees on a year-round basis. Here are a few examples:
- Offering a universal Provider Search feature helps employees find a provider who’s in-network. Instead of employees having to go to different sites to find a doctor or dentist, each with a different user interface, a universal directory provides a consistent user destination and experience; one that remains consistent even if the employee/er changes carriers.
- Take provider search one step further and proactively notify employees if their provider has dropped out of their network. Communicating this information at the right time will minimize surprise out-of-network bills, improving your employee experience (and saving them money) throughout the year.
- Physician appointment booking features provide value throughout the year making it easy to schedule and book appointments. Amino goes even further into this decision support category by providing cost and quality transparency and proactively matching individuals with the in-network physicians best suited to that patient’s needs and preferences.
- Tools that aid in deductible tracking and/or HSA spending are quite useful in helping employees stay on top of their finances … and on the platform.
- Prescription drug search helps employees understand if their recently prescribed drugs are covered by their plan, the cost that the employee will incur for that drug and perhaps offer advice on generic equivalents. Drug co-pay coupons and cash drug services such as GoodRx can also be offered.
- Telemedicine is an increasingly popular feature, one that employees love, allowing them to speak to a doctor via web, phone or mobile app in a matter of minutes.
These are just a few examples of the types of tools that can turn a static, seldom-used benefits platform into an interactive, highly-relevant environment that employees will turn to throughout the year.
Wellness tips are always useful and relevant in a ben admin platform. Here, communication is key and message simplicity is paramount. Communications around wellness must provide clear, easy to understand instructions on how employees can improve their wellness. A good example is a “one up, two down” program encouraging employees to take the stairs one flight up or two flights down before pressing the elevator button. Some employers may want to add incentives to the mix, and a ben admin platform is an excellent vehicle for introducing incentives and gamification of wellness tools.
Other Benefits Information
It’s not always about decision support tools or gamification. A benefits platform can also be used as a primary channel for educating employees about all sorts of different benefits. These can include information on ancillary healthcare benefits like vision and dental insurance; education on the types of life and disability insurance employees might want to consider; and education on the importance of saving for the future in retirement accounts. A benefits platform can also be the central hub for information on less usual benefits, such as pet insurance and student loan reimbursement. While some of these coverages are only available at open enrollment, educational material can (and should) be delivered throughout the year.
Keep the Benefits Conversation Going
Different employees respond to and engage with different communication channels. Many employees like emails, posters, town halls, and group meetings. But employers should also modernize, especially when it comes to reaching those Millennials that communicate via technology. In addition to communicating through the more traditional channels, it’s a good idea to prime a ben admin platform to deliver information via:
- Personalized dashboards
- Mobile alerts and in app notifications delivered to employee smart phones
- Videos rather than the written word
Some of the most cutting edge organizations might even try integrating Emma, a recently-announced voice-activated assistant from Alegeus (which offers healthcare and benefit payments solutions). Emma is a first cousin to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa: consumers ask a question about their healthcare accounts and Emma finds the answer. When it comes to benefits technology, there are clearly many exciting new developments to keep the conversation active.
Businesses should not let the dust gather on their benefits administration platform. By taking advantage of the features and add-ons that are available today, companies can turn their ben admin platform into a tool that makes benefits a year round conversation. The result? Greater employee engagement and higher morale, as benefits are more optimally utilized.
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