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HR’s Struggle Defining Benefit Value

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What’s the strategy to engage employees & explain benefit value?

More importantly, present the value it offers to them, personally.  The message is further complicated as benefit packages have options to consider. They have to understand each benefit & it’s role in overall package.  The definition of each benefit, why it matters to the participant, how it can help them, their family and on. It is difficult to wrap the correct message around.

benefit value, healthpoint plus newsletterAt the same time, we have to address the issue of helping define benefit value.  Participants don’t have insight into future costs & savings, how benefit & premium costs are calculated, or the role they have in helping to keep future benefit & premium costs under control. Employee benefits as a whole represents a tremendous amount of money, value, & time. Benefits seem so desperately misunderstood, looked upon with suspicion, & typically looked at as unavoidable. It’s not, we know that, finance people know that, so why is there such a disconnect between benefit – sponsor – participant?

How do we engage participants & drive interest in benefits?

That is hard to tackle in a post, but let’s make it clear that the discussion has to take place. We all recognize SHRM is a great resource benefit market analysis, & an article titled “Missing the Mark: Employees Don’t Appreciate Benefits Spending” hits on some key topics for consideration.

SHRM, once again established that most employers recognize how important a benefit package is to attracting talent.

The study has a number of key topics we need to look at a bit deeper. We also have to take a good look at the objective of the sample group, offer benefits that create value & support attracting talent.

  • “90 percent of employers view attracting talent and improving engagement as the top objectives they want to achieve by offering employee benefits
  • “70 percent) say they are struggling to help employees understand and value their benefits package.”

The disconnect is much more apparent when we really look at the numbers above. Just to reinforce the spot HR & Benefit teams are in, & the level to which this seems to be a shared experience, benefits value wide:

  • Per Thompson’s Online: “only 7 percent of global HR professionals say that they are consistently delivering against their benefits plan objectives.

It’s not difficult to start getting a grasp on the scale of the disconnect. But, how do we start a process where HR & Benefit Pros. are offered the support, effectively communicate, & provide the tools necessary for the same knowledge transfer to employee/participant?

Participant knowledge is limited & the concept of benefit value is lost.

Considering (as we have above) most HR/Benefit depts. are struggling with defining benefit value – is participant disconnect unexpected? We end up stuck in the middle of unhappy employees & scores of benefits that are completely overlooked – never mind at a real cost.

It seems to boil down to a cycle of employers offering benefits they can’t get employees interested in, regardless of the actual value the benefit offers. To further complicate the cycle, the lack of engagement/participation leads to participant dissatisfaction. Employees are upset with the offerings & employers have no effective feedback or response mechanism. We are looking at (for lack of a better term) a chicken and egg scenario.

How does a company analyze benefit value?

How is value analyzed and differentiated between employer & participant value? Clearly this is a huge open question, called out in Thomson’s study, with” only 12% of employers can demonstrate return on investment” on the benefits they offer. That is a pretty shockingly small number, at least it seems that way to me. On top of the need to see ROI employees are faced with 60% of employees dissatisfied with the company’s offerings.

There are big decisions that have to be made, or nothing will change.

  • Identify a target benefit(s), that is clearly a benefit to the employee & develop an engagement plans (outline below).
  • The flipside to ensure benefits utilized are effective for the company as well, supporting ROI, lowering long term costs.

Clearly that is not a simple task & certainly not easily made without analyzing data, but you have to start or there is no chance capture the employee interest & drive participation.

Virtual Health, with HealthPoint Plus is probably the best option to get a plan in action, with minimal risk of internal costs. Reason being, check out their pledge, you are assuming no real risk (in terms of cost, they guarantee you save.) & it’s the only Subscription Telehealth Benefit plan I have used.

Subscription based telehealth is key. No copays, the top issue with adoption is out of the picture. Getting employees on board with the message – you are signed up – try calling the Dr. before you go to the office, it’s not going to cost you anything (including time). They will soon realize the true benefit value and utilization rises.

Get employees interested & generating benefit “goodwill” pays off.

Interest in future communication are better received & engagement rises. There is certainly quite a bit on the table & many challenges to work through, we cannot minimize the scale. But picking a place to start and getting employees excited about benefit options – it’s a 100% positive way to kick off a new benefit culture of engagement.

How to deliver a message your employees can get excited about?

First, we have to make the positives & negatives easy to understand. Real life explanations are going to help. Keep in mind how concerning phrases like “tax implications” or “only choice for the year” can be to most. The fear of a mistake that they will be stuck with all year, will drive down participation. Understanding the needs of the participants & personalizing messaging to make it clear – use this benefit & save x.

HealthPoint Plus telehealth benefits are a great & straightforward example.

Letting employees know that they have unlimited access to a real Dr. 24/7, is a positive and well received message. Letting them know that there is NO COPAY when they need to speak with a Dr., no matter when they call, or how many times – is incredibly well received. Driving employee engagement & interest is much easier with such a great message and valuable benefit.

Add that cost saving to the employer & containing year over year plan costs – our plan couldn’t be a better way to start, particularly as the plan & cost savings are not guessed or assumed, the saving to the employer are guaranteed.

See our Pledge:  healthpoint plus logo

How to design communications that drive engagement, & define benefit value?

It is always important to consider other (non-employees e.g. spouse) who are part of the decision process. Make sure the family is able to easily understand the positives and any risks, spelled out clearly.

The Social Media model – make info freely available and easy to find in a number of different places.  Images, documents, make sure info in any format is easy to find.

  • Real $ per $ service comparisons.
  • Real life story, comparisons, & at home scenario.
  • Visual, such as infographics.
  • & more general cost per care and cost for similar service overviews.

Those are a few thoughts we wanted to put out for discussion & look forward to feedback on what works for you or any questions.

Getting employees actively engaged in benefits isn’t easy, we all agree.  Helping support & keeping participants informed – ultimately helps them make better benefit decisions. Employees who understand benefit value will make better financial decisions, as well as see the effort put into comprehensive benefit packages.

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