Blog posts

Best practices for educating your employees on benefits and spending accounts

Ensure employees are aware of the benefits packages and spending accounts available to them. Here are some strategies to increase benefits utilization.

 Min Read 

Competitive employee benefits and spending accounts are leading factors in employee retainment.

In a MetLife employee benefits survey, a supermajority of employees (69%) stated that having a wider array of benefits would increase their loyalty to their employer. If it meant earning the loyalty of nearly 70% of your workforce, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to effectively communicate the benefits your company offers?

Employee benefits go beyond basic health coverage and 401k plans. Unfortunately, your employees may not know about the different spending accounts your company offers, like HSAs and LSAs. Don’t lose employees to better benefits plans or spending accounts, especially if lack of communication is the only reason.

An Unum study shows that 41% of workers are likely to look for a new job with better benefits. That percentage grows among Millennials (57%) and Gen-Zers (65%).

Therefore, if you offer employee benefits, make sure your staff is educated about how spending accounts work! (And if you don’t offer a benefits program, consider starting!) Keeping your employees informed about their benefits can also increase utilization.

So, how can you best advise and remind your employees about their benefits plans and spending accounts? Here are some strategies to increase benefits utilization.

Build an omnichannel promotion plan.

Unless you only have one employee, your employee benefits packages won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone has different needs met by various plans and spending accounts. It’s only natural that not every employee will use every package an equal amount. However, don’t let the reason your benefits program goes underutilized stem from a lack of communication. Here are some communication strategies your HR department can implement to keep employees informed about their benefits and spending accounts.

Orientation and Offer Letters: New prospects and hires should be informed about benefits plans right off the bat. Provide them with a detailed list of available benefits to show you care about their well-being and reinforce those benefits throughout onboarding. Be sure to follow up on this information later, too — new hires are processing tons of new information; benefits may be cast to the wayside.

Open Enrollment: Take advantage of open enrollment each year to remind your employees about their available benefits. For example, some companies offer different healthcare options. If your employees are thinking of switching, remind them to research ahead of time.

Email Blasts: Your employees are checking their emails constantly. A quarterly email reminding them of their available benefits could lead to an increase in utilization. Perhaps something has changed in their lives over the past three months, and one of your available plans meets their new needs. Make sure the subject line of the email is easily searchable! You don’t want it to get lost in a sea of messages.

Intranet Channels: Some offices utilize intranet software like Slack and Microsoft Teams to communicate with their employees. Keep a channel dedicated to benefits information. Let your employees discuss their savings in said channel, thus prompting others to utilize their available benefits or spending accounts.

On-Site Events and Consultation: Don’t hesitate to bring benefits providers right to your employees to talk about different perks. For example, those planning for retirement can also meet with your 401(k) planner to discuss their investments and savings.

Offer consistent follow-up messaging.

You can’t rely on one-and-done strategies to inform your employees about available benefits, especially when rolling out new plans. Follow-up with everyone in the offices about what’s available to them. Here are some strategic ways to do so.

Effective engagement: Promote your available plans in a way that catches your employees’ attention. Engagement strategies can include the aforementioned strategies — email blasts, newsletters, and intranet channels — among others.

Share savings stories: With their permission, share stories from employees who’ve saved money by utilizing their available benefits and spending accounts. For example: “Sarah from Marketing saved $200 this month by using her LSA to cover her gym membership and personal trainer fees! Go, Sarah!”

Year-round reminders: Setting calendar reminders throughout the year can help HR remind employees about their available benefits.

Simplify the language for spending accounts.

If the language in your reminders is hard to follow and full of jargon, how do you expect your employees to follow it? Keeping things simple is the best way for employees to understand and remember their benefits.

The digestible language of your benefits needs to parallel ease of use. If your claims process is too complex and challenging to use, employees may be less inclined to even try. Streamlining the benefits system is a win-win-win situation for you, your brokers, and your employees.

Finally, put yourselves in an employee or prospect’s shoes. If you wanted to learn more about your available spending accounts, where would you look first? Perhaps add all of your available benefits to the careers page on your company website — and keep it updated. If all else fails, your employees know one constant place to go for benefits information.

Be open to comments and feedback.

To figure out how your employees are utilizing their available benefits, go right to the horse’s mouth. A company-wide survey about benefits utilization can provide much-needed insight into what is and is not useful. You could also offer an anonymous portal for employees to give feedback on current benefits. Having a space for employees to ask questions can lead to problems solving themselves. Employee A may be confused about their spending accounts, and Employee B might have the answer.

Analytics also provide insight into which offers are utilized and which are collecting dust. Data analysis offers a great way to “poll” your employees without pestering them during the workday.

Make spending accounts management easier.

Forty-three percent of companies are still using manual processes to manage their expense reports. And 46% of organizations do not even track associated costs!

Implementing automated expense management software is a valuable practice for companies to consider. Forma makes managing employee benefits and spending accounts easy, while doubling the industry standard for benefits engagement.