Benefits Administration

When it comes to benefits enrollment, how important is user experience?

It’s standard practice for businesses to offer a suite of benefits—health care, wellness programs, and tuition reimbursement. And many companies try to differentiate themselves in the talent marketplace by offering better benefit packages than their competitors. But no matter how generous your benefits are, if you can’t get your employees to use them, you’ll never realize a significant return on your investment.

Employees see benefits as a cost too. Your company may subsidize the benefits, but your employees contribute through each paycheck. Problems may arise if your company AND your employees both feel you’re paying too much for benefits and not getting enough in return.

So how do you ensure that everyone appreciates their benefits? You educate your workforce about the benefits’ full value, set realistic expectations about what those benefits provide, and create a user experience that makes it easy for your employees to choose and use those benefits.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a positive user experience. Employees don’t just select benefits during Open Enrollment then forget about them. Benefits management happens every day, and the more (and better) benefits you offer, the more important it is for you to employ a common interface that’s user-friendly.

A user experience that is simple and intuitive goes hand-in-hand with adoption. Both will lead to greater value derived from your benefits program in terms of dollars invested and in giving your company a competitive advantage when you’re recruiting top talent.

Creating that user experience takes work and planning. You’ll have to deal with several challenges that may impact how well your employees engage with their benefits.

You have to confront the common/uncommon paradox. You want to create a consistent experience for all your employees, but some benefits might be uniquely beneficial for workers in a given role, location, or personal situation.

People like to personalize their interactions with their banks and online retailers, but when it comes to benefits, they want to believe that what’s being offered is the same for everyone. The benefits your company provides may be the same for everyone, but the way each individual uses those benefits is very personal.

It is this personalization of a common offering that will drive both adoption and employee satisfaction.

You must also deal with the consistency/variety paradox. When you communicate with your employees about their benefits, you want your message to be consistent. But you have to offer the information in various formats to accommodate people who consume information in different ways. (For example, if you have employees who work in the field and don’t have access to a desktop computer, you must communicate in a way that’s accessible via a mobile device.) You have to post benefits information using all the channels that are available to you to ensure you reach every employee.

This brings us the communication/understanding paradox. You may have communicated quite a bit—sent out an email, published information on your internal website, put up a few posters. But communication isn’t enough. For your benefits to truly be impactful, your employees have to understand and appreciate  them.

As you can see from this chart, companies that focus on transparency and understanding throughout the benefits process are more likely to increase employees’ engagement, lower their turnover rate, and improve their productivity.

By delivering key benefits messaging in various formats—from live town hall-style meetings to webinars and interactive tools—you can successfully navigate through all three paradoxes and positively impact your business.

If your company has not seen a positive return on your benefits, consider rethinking the employee user experience and how workers enroll and interact with their benefits. Rather than increasing the number of benefits you offer, you may earn a greater return by focusing on a more consistent and engaging user experience.