Do your employees have skin in the benefits game?

Published on Thu, 06/11/2015 - 00:16

When it comes to the challenges that keep employers up at night, employee benefits packages are generally high on the list. You want to offer a competitive benefits package that will attract and keep the best talent, preferably without paying exorbitant premiums. For most employers, it’s a precarious balancing act.

Then, once you’ve settled on a benefits package, you’re faced with another balancing act – how to get your employees to put some serious skin into the benefits game and make smart choices.

Whether they like it or not, many employees already have more skin in the game in the form of increased deductibles, co-pays, and insurance premiums. With more at stake out of their own pockets, it’s more vital than ever for them to make smart choices and get the most from their healthcare dollars. However, they may need some suggestions from you about how to do that.

If smart health care usage is a goal for your company, here are three ways to make it happen:

  1. Remember that top-down buy-in is a must. In a recent wellness survey conducted by Employee Benefit News, 20 percent of employers who don’t have a wellness program cited a lack of management support as the reason, and 25 percent of those who have tried and failed with workplace wellness initiatives cited the same reason. Whether it’s a wellness program or other benefit, if your management team isn’t invested, you can’t expect it from your employees.
  2. Incentivize the behaviors you want to see. Your employee base might include singles and families, and cover the spectrum from Baby Boomers to GenX-ers to Millennials. All of those groups need some training to become smart healthcare consumers. That’s one reason the use of outcome-based initiatives is on the rise, according to the 19th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care. For instance, 37 percent of companies structure their employee contributions to incentivize employees to take specific steps such as undergoing health assessments; and 54 percent require employees to complete a health risk appraisal/biometric screening to be eligible for financial incentive. As for wellness programs, around 80 percent of existing programs feature biometric screenings or flu shots as core features, followed by access to health risk assessments (77 percent). Other options that are popular with employees include behavioral and lifestyle services and smoking cessation (both 64 percent), physical fitness classes (58 percent), and mental health and substance abuse treatment (56 percent).
  3. Proactively communicate. Regardless of what’s in your final mix of benefits, communication is the glue that holds it all together. Make sure employees understand the relationship between overall health care spending, your corporate employee benefits premium and their out-of-pocket costs. Studies have shown that employees welcome and want their employers’ advice and feedback about benefits options and financial planning. You’ll also have a much easier time getting your employees to put skin in the benefits game if they have skin in the company. According to Dale Carnegie Training, the top three drivers of employee engagement are the employee’s relationship with his or her immediate supervisor, belief in senior leadership, and pride in working for the company. The bottom line: The strength of your culture could impact the success of your health usage education efforts.

Need help figuring out what benefits are best for your team? Want wellness or plan design ideas? Talk to the experts at Heffernan Advisory Services