Struggling to boost your employee benefits participation rates? Your company isn’t alone. A 2020 study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that participation rates on benefits such as retirement often lag behind the number of employees with access. And a 2018 UK study found just 12% of companies were happy with employee engagement in employer-pension programs. At the same time, a majority of employees are looking for more benefits.

Employee engagement’s relationship to retention and customer satisfaction is well-documented. So it’s in every employer’s best interest to boost participation in benefits, helping employees feel both invested in their company, and that the company is investing in them. What hurdles might stand in your business’s way as you try to boost those benefit participation rates?

You’re not marketing your products properly

Internal marketing is key to boosting employee participation. Yes, your employees get a welcome package explaining benefits when they come on board. And your team does their best to boost numbers around Open Enrollment season. Unfortunately, many employees re-elect the same coverage year after year without thinking — or even by default, if your company allows passive enrollment (more on that below).

What’s new with your benefits? Pushing bright and shiny additions before Open Enrollment, plus working to educate year-round with seasonal topics, is an internal marketing strategy that’s easy to implement.

Your passive enrollment system is discouraging change

A huge majority of U.S. employers conduct a “passive enrollment” approach to Open Enrollment — 71%, according to SHRM. The best reason for passive enrollment is easy to spot: it’s easier on everyone, since most plans can simply rollover to the next year. But active enrollment — requiring employees to reselect their benefit options — could yield better results for everyone.

When employees pause to consider their benefits, especially if they’ve had life changes, pay rises or decreases, or the company has added new benefit programs, they could find cost savings and beneficial programs they didn’t expect.

Your programs don’t reflect your diverse workplace

Workplaces are diverse, ever-changing environments. Are your benefits catalogs reflective of your current employee population? Younger generations are coming onboard, older generations are re-assessing their needs as they send kids to college or near retirement, and populations of all ages are taking a critical look at the way they interact with their careers. Multiple generations in the workplace are all looking for specific benefits and communication styles.

How do you know if your benefits are resonating? First, ask! Different strategies can yield layers of information about employment satisfaction. CultureIQ lays out some trends in benefits you may want to consider for varying demographics, including short-term disability for high-impact labor, flex-scheduling for sectors rife with burnout, and caregiving benefits.

You can boost participation rates

You can do it! WBD can help, with customized, integrated benefits administration solutions that change the way employees interact with their benefits — for the better! From enhanced communications to single, easy-to-use sources for benefits information, WBD delivers simplified benefits for a busy workforce. Learn more here.

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