3 Rock-Solid Ways to Communicate Benefits Information

Not to get too personal, but the chances are pretty good that you don’t know a whole lot about your employee benefits – if you have them. Most U.S. workers are in the same boat. Americans are woefully ignorant about the details of their health plans. And that’s just for starters. They don’t know much about their retirement plans and voluntary benefits, either.

To be sure, it is not that we’re all too dumb to understand something so complicated. Rather, it’s a communication issue. Carriers do not communicate very well with brokers and agents. In turn, brokers and agents don’t communicate very well with employers and employees. The result is that employees are left guessing. And when they find out they have guessed incorrectly, they are understandably unhappy.

BenefitMall is a Dallas company that specializes in employee benefits. They are actually a general agency through which thousands of brokers around the country access products and services. They have some suggestions as to how both brokers and employers can better communicate for the ultimate benefit of the employee.

1. Utilize the Latest Digital Technologies

Digital technologies impact nearly every area of life. From shopping to calling a ride and making an appointment to have the car looked at, digital technologies have transformed how we do just about everything. Benefits administration should be no different. It is time for paper documents and submission forms to go. It’s time to sunset the printed brochures, catalogs, etc.

Modern employees live in the digital world. They are used to communicating with cell phones and computers. They are comfortable harvesting information from apps and websites. If brokers and employers want to communicate in a way that will engage employees, they need to do it digitally.

2. Keep It Simple

If digital technologies are the foundation of rock-solid benefits communication, simplicity is the first floor built on top. One of the biggest mistakes seen consistently across the entire industry is the tendency to communicate so far above the heads of average Americans that they can’t possibly understand their benefit plans. That’s wrong. It is just plain wrong.

Every piece of industry literature written from a carrier’s perspective needs to be reworked so it’s presented from the employee’s perspective. Employees need access to information written in simple English. They need hard numbers and illustrations that make their benefits tangible. If the industry continues to communicate the way it always has, employees will continue being utterly confused and unhappy with their benefits.

3. Be Ready With Support

Communicating within the benefits space serves two purposes: informing and supporting. Far too many carriers and brokers fail at the support end. They do very well at providing the information employees need to make choices during open enrollment. But when employees have questions or struggle to make sense of their benefits months down the road, help is nowhere to be found.

Brokers and agents should always be ready to support employers and employees. They should be ready to answer questions and solve problems. Likewise, general agencies and carriers should do the same for brokers and agents. Support is not a separate entity in and of itself. It goes hand-in-hand with informing and educating.

So many employees are dissatisfied with their benefits but feel like they have nowhere else to go. More often than not, their dissatisfaction stems from ignorance. That ignorance is almost always the result of poor communication all the way up the supply chain. Fortunately, the problem is simple enough to fix. The only question is whether the industry’s stakeholders have the will to fix it.