“Our research indicates that the majority of employees are on autopilot when it comes to enrolling in the employee benefits provided to them through work. As a result, when employees simply roll over the previous year’s selections, they are often missing out on important new coverage options and potentially leaving money on the table,” said Michael Fradkin, senior vice president, Voluntary & Worksite Benefits, MetLife.
He explained, “There are also significant advantages for organizations when their employees take a more active role in their benefits enrollment. Employees who actively engage in reviewing and evaluating their workplace benefits options are three times more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, and more than twice as likely to recognize and value the benefits offered through their employer.”
The MetLife study found nearly one in three employees are not engaging in their annual benefits enrollment, and less than half (42%) of employers are very satisfied with employee participation in voluntary benefits.
MetLife analyzed data from the study to identify several strategies employers can use to drive participation during the fall enrollment season:
- Upgrading the Enrollment Experience: Employers that recognize the importance of a good customer experience during benefits enrollment and upgrade their experience to meet the expectations of today’s employees will see increased engagement. Nearly half of employees engaged in benefits enrollment said their employer’s benefit enrollment process offers a customer experience comparable to the best online shopping experience.
- Using a Simple and Straightforward Enrollment Process: Companies that focus on making the process simple and accessible, with easy-to-use decisionmaking tools, can see a payoff in the form of increased engagement.
- Aiming for Online Enrollment: Forty-two percent of employees prefer online enrollment, yet only 35% had the opportunity to do so at their company. Online enrollment is more likely to be characterized as simple and straightforward, compared with paper-based or phone enrollment.
- Communicating Clearly: Communications are compelling when they demonstrate that the company knows its employees. More than half (54%) of engaged employees say it’s very helpful when benefits materials provide personalized information reflecting their needs and life stage.
- Communicating Frequently: Engagement increases when employers communicate about benefits throughout the year, with 43% of engaged employees saying ongoing education about how to use their benefits would be very helpful.
- Fostering Feedback: Proactively seeking and incorporating employee feedback on the enrollment process can foster greater employee engagement. Four in 10 engaged employees indicated their employers obtain feedback about how to improve benefits communication and processes, compared with just 17% of non-engaged employees.
The study was conducted during October 2012 and consisted of two distinct studies fielded by GfK Custom Research North America. The employer survey comprised 1,503 interviews with benefits decisionmakers at companies with staff sizes of at least two employees. The employee sample comprised 1,422 interviews with full-time employees age 21 and over, at companies with a minimum of two employees.
More information about effective enrollment tactics and best practices for employers can be found here.