Odds are, if you’re an HR professional, you’ve asked yourself this question once or twice (or maybe several times) before. Unfortunately, you’re not alone. According to a 2017 report by Chestnut Global Partners, an international provider of Employee Assistance Programs, less than 7% of employees use their benefit programs to their fullest extent. Yet, a recent Glassdoor survey found that 80% of employees said they would prefer additional benefits over increased compensation. Obviously, benefits have an incredibly strong impact on employees – they just don’t know how to use them properly.

voluntary benefits

As an HR professional, you’ve likely spent hours crafting what you believe to be the perfect employee benefits suite. So, why don’t your employees use them all? We think we know the answer. Check out the 3 most common reasons why employees don’t use their benefits. More importantly, learn how you can solve the problem!

1. They don’t understand them.

Let’s face it, employee benefits can be difficult to comprehend. Perhaps it’s your employee’s first job, and they’re navigating the complex waters of employee benefits for the first time. Maybe your employee feels just downright confused, but doesn’t know where to go to clear things up. Whatever it is, it hurts employees who don’t understand how to utilize their employee benefits package best. So, how can you solve this problem?

Improve the way you educate your employees about their benefits. If this solution sounds simple, that’s because it is! We recommend creating a short, anonymous survey and encouraging your employees to be completely honest when they fill it out. Emphasize the fact that their responses will be used to create a better plan for explaining their benefits. Then, do just that. Figure out where the gaps are in knowledge about your current benefits offerings, and then work to fill those gaps with better and more useful information about the different options available and how they would apply to each employee.

2. They don’t know they exist.

When it comes to employee benefits, chances are your employees know about your run-of-the-mill offerings like medical insurance. However, a new trend is creating a suite of voluntary benefits to attract new employees and keep current ones. Unfortunately, many companies haven’t perfected their communication strategy for these benefits. This causes a problem for companies, as voluntary benefits are one of the best ways to recruit, hire and retain employees. But obviously, employees need to know about their voluntary benefits for them to be meaningful. So, how can you solve this problem?

Expand the way you communicate your benefits. Take a look at how you currently communicate the employee benefits you offer. And don’t just limit yourself to one or two communication strategies. Not only should you be utilizing popular methods like physical flyers, emails, and your company’s intranet, but try some outside of the box ideas as well! Hold a quarterly workshop to walk employees through your benefit suite, and offer a small incentive like lunch or a fun raffle for attendance to the workshop. Give ample warning open enrollment is beginning and work on creating answers to questions you frequently get. It will take some experimentation in the beginning, but when you finally find the right amount of communication that works for your employees, their active utilization of benefits will be well worth it!

3. They think they’re only for high-cost items.

Another common misconception about employee benefits is they are only useful for expensive or high-cost items, like health, dental or vision insurance. Even voluntary benefits like a perks and discounts program are commonly thought of to only have deals for costly items, but it’s actually quite the opposite! Most voluntary benefits have offerings that range from more expensive items to deals on your day-to-day products that any employee can afford – and more importantly, will want! So, how can you solve this problem?

Provide your employees with concrete evidence that their benefits work. When you present solid proof like savings numbers or anecdotes from fellow coworkers about how they’ve saved, it makes it much easier for employees to understand that their benefits, including voluntary, are extremely useful and valuable for them. For example, with PerkSpot, you will regularly receive helpful data about how much your employees are saving through their Employee Discount Program, plus which categories and discounts they’re loving!

We know employee benefit programs have an incredibly positive effect on employees. They offer assistance and security for employees, which, in turn, promotes feelings of happiness. As most managers and HR professionals alike know, a happy employee is a productive, engaged, and attentive employee. If you’re struggling to see full participation in your employee benefits package, it’s likely that your employees don’t understand it, don’t know what it fully entails, or they have misconceptions about it. Solve that problem with one of these easy solutions! If you’re interested in learning about new ways to communicate and educate your employees about their Employee Discount Program, click here!

About Amy Ridder

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