Tips for Educating your Employees on Benefits
Offering Employee Group Benefits is one of the most important things you can do to attract and retain great staff. There is no question that most job seekers will factor your benefits offering into their decision to apply for your company. They can also be a reason why staff leave you for another company. Ironically, though, employees often don’t take full advantage of their benefits plans, or even fully understand what’s available to them. But according to Sanofi Canada’s 2019 healthcare survey, companies with a wellness culture – that is, a culture that encourages and supports health and wellness – rate their job satisfaction; the quality of their health benefits plan; and their personal health higher than those who don’t have one.
So, having a great benefits package is only part of what makes your company a great choice. Educating employees on benefits and creating a wellness culture will go the extra distance to keep staff loyal; and it will let them know that their health and wellness is as important to you as it is to them. So what’s the best way to educate your employees and create a wellness culture? Here are a few tips you can implement.
Designate a Group Benefits Champion
In large companies, there is usually an HR person or department that will be your company’s go-to for group benefits training, resources, and questions. Your HR department, if you have one, is your obvious choice for designating a group benefits champion or champions. But if you’re a smaller company, it may be less clear who should take on this role, and what exactly they will be responsible for.
Generally, whoever is handling your plan administration should also be able to answer employee questions about using the plan; train new employees on plan registration, inclusions, exclusions and how to make claims; and direct staff to helpful resources from your plan provider.
No matter your company size, identify someone who staff an go to with questions; then make sure your staff know who that person is.
Educating employees on benefits face-to-face
For many companies, educating employees on benefits involves handing them an employee handbook when they’re first hired and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to be much help. Most of us learn better through in-person training, where we can ask questions, rather than through daunting and sometimes confusing handbooks.
It’s important to make benefits training part of your new employee on-boarding. Have new hires sit down with your benefits champion to learn about their group benefits; when they kick in; how to register for them; and what they include. Remember, new employees are often overwhelmed with all of the new information that’s coming their way. Once their employee benefits start make sure to remind them that your champion is available to answer questions, any time.
But you shouldn’t stop at on-boarding. Annual or biannual training sessions for all of your staff will give them a chance to ask questions; stay informed on plan changes; learn something new; or be reminded of something they forgot.
Train your Managers
Your managers are usually the first to know about the health and life challenges that could be affecting your employees’ work. Make sure your managers know what resources are available through your group benefits plan; this can be a huge boost for your employees health and benefits understanding and usage.
Not only that, empowering your managers with the knowledge to ensure their teams can get support when they need it helps build trust and connection; it also supports the kind of workplace relationships and wellness culture that keep your employees engaged.
While your managers don’t have to be quite as knowledgeable as your health benefits champion(s), the more they know, the better they can encourage, support and educate the rest of your staff.
Leverage Health Awareness Days
Many national and international health organizations have designated days to raise awareness about a variety of health and wellness issues. Staff often rally around these issues; everyone knows someone who has been affected by some illness or disease.
There are a lot of health promotion days; so, you can choose to champion popular ones, and/or the most relevant to your work context. Awareness days that focus on ending smoking, stopping bullying, or raising awareness around mental health can be particularly helpful in workplace settings. Along with this, remind staff that their benefits offer resources to help with these issues, including counselling, cost support and more.
You can even take this a step further; find out what health issues are important to your staff and start a company team for a popular health run or walk.
Take advantage of educational resources from your Benefits Provider
Most Benefits Providers have insightful blogs and educational resources that can help your employees solve problems, learn health and wellness skills, save costs on medicines, and much more. Highlighting and sharing these resources with staff is a great way to help increase their knowledge; it gets them more engaged in their health and wellness, and work-life balance. By far, this is one of the easiest tips for educating employees on benefits; these educational resources are there for the taking, and sharing!
Use your company’s existing communication resources & a marketing mindset
What tools does your company use to communicate, share information, and celebrate your achievements? Staff newsletters, intranet message boards, email updates, and even paper handouts can all be used for educating employees on benefits.
But creating employee engagement means exercising some marketing skills to connect and grab attention. Don’t try to tackle everything at once. If you set up a more regular communication schedule, you can remind staff about different services and benefits one at a time. A short and simple message like, “Need legal advice? Guess what, that’s included in your EAP,” will be more impactful in the long run than a long confusing list of what’s included in a plan. This is also a great place to share some of those helpful resources from your Benefits Provider.
Keep a list of FAQs
Chances are, your benefits champion gets a lot of similar questions over and over. If you don’t know what to share in your intracompany news, keep track of common questions to help you decide what to prioritize, and what to search for in your provider resources. That way you’ll be answering the most common questions for your staff and tailoring your educational efforts to their needs.
These are just a few tips for educating employees about benefits and creating a culture of wellness in your workplace. Creating knowledgeable staff, and a culture of wellness will not only help with staff morale and commitment, but help them access resources that can avert more serious and costly health issues down the line.
If you need help finding health benefits educational resources, or have specific questions about your plan, let us know. We’re here to help our clients get the most from their benefits!