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How to Approach Benefits Education with Empathy

Selecting benefits is a significant decision for employees, yet many aren’t willing to dedicate the time it takes to fully understand the choices they’re making.  


In fact, according to research from Aflac, 40% of employees would rather be subjected to some form of discomfort, such as doing three hours of hot yoga, than research their insurance benefits during open enrollment. Therefore, it’s important that employers assist in this process by educating their workforce.

However, to do so successfully, organizations need to approach it with empathy, says Marcy Klipfel, senior vice president of employee engagement at Businessolver. According to Businessolver’s “2019 State of Workplace Empathy Study” 93% of employees believe it’s important for an employer to show empathy.

“Employers need to first understand that employees find benefits confusing and stressful,” Klipfel said. “Being empathetic means understanding your employees’ frustration with benefits and providing clear, helpful communications early and often. That way, employees can engage with, and learn about, their benefits throughout the year and not just when open enrollment comes around. This helps them become more comfortable with the benefits decisions they make for themselves and their families.”

Employers can take simple steps to be more empathetic to their employees’ benefits concerns by hosting webinars, providing opportunities for one-on-one sessions and sharing fact sheets, Klipfel said. Organizations can also leverage smart tools and chatbots to assist employees online.

A common mistake by organizations is putting together a full-scale effort to guide their employees during open enrollment but then neglecting that same attention to detail after annual enrollment is completed. It’s during this time that employees can feel the most disengaged from their benefits, which prevents them from making the most cost-effective decisions.

“Understanding this impact will help employees make better-informed decisions and safeguard against unnecessary costs,” Klipfel said. “With the deeper knowledge that comes with continual benefits education, employees can maximize savings with their benefits, get coverage they need, and even avoid over-insurance. This in turn reduces stress and can improve financial wellness, which affects overall well-being.”

Having a workforce that is confident and knowledgeable about their benefits can be a boon for businesses, according to Businessolver’s research, which found that 75% of employees believe empathy results in greater motivation, 69% believe it leads to higher productivity, and 60% believe it leads to lower turnover.

Additionally, 93% of employees said they would be more likely to stay with a company that empathized with their needs, 78% would work longer hours, 60% would take less pay. However, 80% would switch companies for a more empathetic employer.

About the Author

Brett Christie Bio Image

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.

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