Quick summary: Benefits professionals aren’t the only ones who find value in understanding benefit trends. You may be surprised at how helpful the information can be to your employees.
Your employees value their benefits more now than ever. According to the MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends, benefits influence worker loyalty more than employers realize. The study found that 41% of employees consider workplace benefits to be the foundation of their personal safety net. And although 69% of workers said that even nonmedical benefits (life, disability, dental, and vision, for example) were an important contributing factor to their loyalty, just 41% of employers agreed.
Employees find a sense of security in understanding their benefits. When you share trend information, whether local, regional, national, or simply your own, you provide them with these advantages:
Perspective: To understand where you’re going, it’s helpful to know where you’ve been. Charts and graphs are a great visual way to show employees what’s happened over time. Use them to illustrate your organization’s trends as well as what’s happening outside your company. People do like to compare their benefits and costs with those of others.
Education: Sharing trends in benefits gives you the perfect opportunity to educate employees. If you talk about rising prescription drug costs, reinforce how the use of generics can help control those costs. If use of emergency rooms is up, remind employees when ER use is and is not appropriate. Your best bet is to provide this information in small doses year-round. It’s easier to comprehend that way.
Understanding cause and effect: If employees are to manage their benefits well, they need to realize the impact of their decisions. Sometimes that’s not easy to do. Say, for example, overall prescription drug use is up but inpatient hospital stays are down. Explain that this trend could be due to better use of maintenance medications, which keep people out of the hospital. Again, regular messages are the best way to get your points across.
A glimpse of the future: When you show employees the big picture, including what’s happening at other businesses, you help prepare them for possible changes to come. More employers are offering consumer-driven health plans, and knowing that may make it easier for employees to accept such a change in the future. The same holds true for out-of-pocket costs, tiered prescription plans, dependent coverage, and even wellness benefits. Changes don’t come as a shock when the handwriting has been on the wall.
• Plan regular communication about global changes that are taking place in employee benefits and let your employees know how their benefits fit into the picture.
• Use your own trend information to help shape employee behavior and benefits use.
Source: 7th Annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends, 2008
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