Whether you’re running benefits enrollment for the first time or gearing up for a renewal year, you want to ensure your employees have the right information to make good benefits decisions. Your — and your employees’ — investment in your organization’s benefits program is valuable. Why? Because, simply put, happier and healthier employees are more productive at work.1
It all begins with the benefits enrollment meeting. A productive meeting is not only crucial to a successful benefits enrollment, but it ensures your employees are well-informed and get their questions answered. Here are the top three reasons why meetings go awry — and possible solutions on how to avoid them.
There’s no getting around it: benefits-enrollment meetings usually are scheduled during work hours. If you’re a small business (with three to 99 employees), this may mean grinding everything to a halt for an hour to explain benefits. But it’s worth it because a well-run benefits enrollment meeting ensures employees are informed and therefore better protected and more productive all year long.
Get lunch: Turn your benefits enrollment meeting into a lunch-hour event. You’ll often find that benefits advisors are willing to provide a meal. Just ask.
Got second (or third) Shifts? Host a late-night or early-morning meeting for second (or third) shift workers that begins just as the shifts end. Benefits advisors are usually used to these situations and do their best to accommodate multiple work shifts. Note: This approach will require employees to stay for an extra hour, so make sure you clearly communicate this schedule change in advance.
Be flexible. Whenever possible, try to host several meetings at a variety of times to allow all of your employees a chance to make the meeting. You can also host meetings as conference calls so an employee can call in from home or while on the road.
A successful benefits enrollment meeting means walking a fine line between providing broad information that applies to most employees and drilling down to details. There will almost always be an employee — or several — with specific personal concerns. Sometimes these employees take over the meeting with questions that apply only to their situation.
Who do you need? Work with your advisor to invite the right subject-matter experts to your meeting. Depending on the benefits your organization offers — as well as your own fluency in the subject — you might include representatives from any of the following providers: health insurance, dental coverage, voluntary plans and retirement planning.
Reassure and redirect. Having experts on hand not only reassures your employees, but helps you to keep your meeting on track. Here’s how it works: Greg asks if his accident plan will pay for pain prescriptions. Instead of spending 10 minutes on this personal concern, you can reassure him by simply saying, “Greg, that’s an excellent question — and we’ve got an answer! You should meet with our Aflac benefits advisor after this meeting and they can help answer that.”
Your team is made up of unique individuals who communicate in their own way and all learn differently. Some easily understand insurance language while others take more time and patience to understand its terminology and concepts.
For many, English is their native language, but others may not be as proficient with the language. These human factors can also make the task of conveying complex benefits information a challenge.
Make a clear communications plan as part of your meeting preparations. Use email, in-office signage and your company intranet (if you have one) to make employees aware of the benefits enrollment process — including the initial meeting — and why they should care.
Translate as necessary. If you have any employees for whom English is a second language, have a translator on hand to help answer questions and distribute translated materials. Even people who speak English well may need some extra help understanding benefits language. Talk to your team and ask them what they need. Then talk to your advisor, who may be able provide or recommend a translation service.
Remind your employees why benefits are so important. You work hard to provide benefits for your employees — you care about your team and the work that you do together. And benefits can help protect them when they need it most. Let them know that.
Communicate after the meeting. Your benefits advisor will provide the right material for the meeting, so you won’t have to worry about that. But ask if you can have digital copies of any pertinent information to send to employees after the meeting.
Now is the time to plan for your next benefits enrollment and identify the right mix of employer provided and employee-funded benefits to help your employees meet all kinds of life-changing events. Your Aflac benefits advisor can assist with your benefits enrollment strategy. See the difference. Contact them today.
Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York.
1 The 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report is the seventh annual study examining benefits trends and attitudes. The study’s surveys, conducted by Lightspeed GMI, captured responses from 1,800 benefits decision-makers and 5,000 employees across the United States in various industries. For more information, visit https://www.aflac.com/awr.