Benefits communication shouldn’t come just once a year at open enrollment time. With open enrollment coming up soon for most companies, the planning process is currently underway and a communications effort is part of that plan. But trying to share it all with employees at once, and expecting them to remember it and understand it, just isn’t going to happen easily.
Benefits communication should be year-round in order to actively engage employees in decisions about their health and finances. They need to understand their plans and participate in them all year long. Communicating throughout the year also better reflects the dynamics of workers’ lives which can change at any time.
Communication about financial well-being benefits should not be overlooked anytime, but especially during this open enrollment season. Although the pandemic is winding down, many employees saw their financial situation significantly impacted over the last 18 months and measurable recovery will take time. Financial well-being benefits will be top of mind for many employees during this open enrollment season.
A February 2021 Arizton report revealed that 35% of workers at large companies have “no clue” their employer offers benefits that include financial wellness. That is certainly a wake-up call for action items in the benefits communication plan. Make sure your employees are well-informed about financial well-being benefits available to them – the ones they might need the most in our “new normal.”
Likewise, now is a good time to take inventory of the specific financial wellness benefits offered within the employee benefits package. In addition to an employee purchase program to assist employees in easily obtaining products and services they need through payroll deduction without a credit check, consider benefits that address different aspects of financial well-being. These might include financial counseling, bill payment programs, medical deductible financing, student loan repayment benefit programs and automatic savings programs.
Employers should keep in mind that even though they deliver the key benefits message at least once during annual open enrollment, people’s lives change and workers will hear a message differently based on their needs at any given moment. For example, an employee purchase program might be seen as a voluntary benefit that offers flexibility and access to products and services during a pandemic, but it also can be useful anytime there are unexpected expenses, such as a broken refrigerator or tires that need replacing.
Paying for high quality, essential items over time without accruing monthly interest or fees is a valuable voluntary benefit that employers can offer their employees without adding any further cost to the total HR benefits package. Communicating the financial benefits of responsible employee purchase programs all year long helps remind and assure workers that it is a benefit they can take advantage of whenever they really need it.
Written by: Mike Wilbert, Purchasing Power Chief Revenue Officer