5 Ways to Educate Young Employees About Their Benefits
Understanding employee benefits isn’t always simple, and for many young employees, it can be downright confusing. Unfortunately, a limited understanding of employee benefits can result in significant—and often unnecessary—expenses for both employees and employers. According to the National Library of Medicine, low health literacy is estimated to cost between $106 billion and $238 billion annually.
But there is good news! Employees can be taught how to be more informed healthcare consumers. For employers, properly educating employees can help keep costs down and improve overall well-being. With the help of our friends at HR360, we’ve put together five ways to educate young employees about their benefits.
1. Start with Benefits 101
If employees aren’t working in the insurance industry, chances are they don’t know basic benefits terminology—especially if they’re young and just entering the workforce. Employers should start educating with benefits 101 initiatives, assuming employees have no base knowledge. Resources should cover insurance basics, such as common terms, group health coverage ins and outs, vesting schedules and enrollment period restrictions.
2. Explain what’s in it for them
Employees will want to understand why it’s worth it to learn these insurance basics. Providing information on the subject of provider networks and how a little research can save employees thousands on medical procedures should resonate with anyone. Explain that understanding health benefits can help employees save money, make smarter health care choices and present opportunities for greater investment potential.
3. Vary the messaging
Start with white papers and handouts, but remember that employees respond to a variety of messaging. Keep it engaging! Providing educational messaging in multiple formats will help to reinforce benefits literacy among employees and capture more attention. Examples of strategies include comprehensive packets, email announcements, mail-home flyers, posters, PowerPoints and videos. There’s no reason why benefits education can’t be both informative and engaging.
4. Don’t stop educating
Of course, benefits literacy isn’t achieved overnight, so begin immediately and continue the effort year-round. Keep your topics fresh, including when to request a life event, how to use telemedicine, how to fill a prescription, when to visit urgent care vs. the emergency room and who qualifies as a dependent. Consider implementing a communication schedule each year, touching on different benefits topics each month. By the time the next open enrollment comes around, employees should be much more knowledgeable about their benefit programs.
5. Be available for questions
Even with the most thorough benefits education resources, employees will still have questions. Do you have a dedicated person on your HR team to help answer benefits-related questions? This person should be available to respond to emails as well as attend in-person or virtual meetings. Another idea is to have employees meet with HR at least once before open enrollment. Hold one-on-one meetings to help encourage employees to ask questions that they may not feel comfortable asking in larger groups.
Remember that employees, especially those entering the workforce for the first time, can’t be expected to understand their benefits nor make wise healthcare choices if they don’t understand benefits basics. As an employer, you have a responsibility to educate their workforce about their benefits. If you need help, contact the Rose & Kiernan, Inc. Employee Benefits Management Group (EBMG) here or by calling (800) 242-4433.