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February 3, 2021

Employee benefits: Choices are important

Carolyn Robbins

Employee benefits are an important benefit and choice.  Employers don’t want employees leaving their organizations because there are not enough choices or the choices aren’t clear. Employees want to be given the benefits that matter most to them and they want to understand how to get the most from the benefit.

Too few choices in an employer’s benefits plan may leave employees disgruntled when what they want or need is not an option. This is especially true when the expectation is that they should be given this benefit as an employee. There is a thought that employees, especially Millennials, want free lunches, ping pong tables and an onsite gym. While these perks may be appreciated, traditional benefits such as health insurance, are still top of employees’ most important benefits lists.

Employers who offer limited choices for benefit plans run the risk of not meeting the needs of a portion of their employee group. According to the Studies at the Brookings report, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the work force by 2025. Sources show that these employees are dealing with student loan debt and very high rents. They don’t want high copays or deductibles and often do not yet have the room in their paycheck to take full advantage of a Health Savings Account. Millennials are also less likely to be attached to a particular physician or dentist. On the other hand, Gen X and Baby Boomers may no longer care about low copays as they are not running to the pediatrician with small children. They may appreciate the savings opportunities of an HSA or want the flexibility of PPO plans to see their physician of choice. These are generational differences, however, employees may have different needs for many reasons.

Having a robust benefit plan full of options is a start. However, if employees do not know what benefits are offered or do not understand the features of their benefit plan, an employer is no better off than if they offer limited choices. Communication and education are necessary to ensure employees are getting the most out of their benefits package. Open enrollment is the time that employers usually explain the choices and allow employees to select from the benefit options. Offering the information in many formats, written materials and employee meetings, may be most effective.

The information provided during open enrollment can be overwhelming and provides a limited time for understanding. Supplying benefit information throughout the year can be useful in reminding employees of the many ways their employer is looking out for them as a valued employee. It can also allow employees the opportunity to understand the features of the various plans at a point when they are actually ready to utilize the benefits.

Choosing which benefit plans to offer employees is challenging.  Working with a Benefits Consultant and conducting employee surveys and/or, having an employee focus group, can help determine the options that an employee group will value most and will fit within an employer’s budget constraints.

Marsh and McLennan Agency, assists employer group clients with designing an employee benefits package that will appeal to multi-generational employee populations and work within the company budget.  Our team helps determine what employees want from their employer and how best to ensure employees understand what is offered. If you feel your offerings have become stale and need some refreshing, we have the team that can help.

Contact your local MMA Benefits Consultant for more information.