Make the digital environment work for employers, employees
by Eric ReisenwitzMr. Reisenwitz is senior vice president and interim president of Group Protection at Lincoln Financial Group. He is responsible for the growth and profitability of the business, and directs the division’s product development, underwriting, distribution, claims, service, strategy and marketing efforts. Visit lfg.com
Benefits were once simply a tool to attract and retain talent, but now are an essential need for employees, who are more focused than ever on employer benefit offerings in the wake of COVID-19. Ensuring that employees have the right benefits to feel protected can help ease the financial stress many are facing.
Those benefits, and education about them, will be critically important — especially as open enrollment in 2020, like much else, is going to look different and will most likely be completed virtually.
Unsurprisingly, consumers are concerned about coverage options during a pandemic. In a recent survey, 45% of U.S. adults said they aren’t sure if short-term disability would cover someone who becomes sick with COVID-19, and 14% believe that COVID-19 would not be covered.
Yet, questions about coverage extend beyond COVID-19. It’s important for employers to help their employees address questions around their options, coverage and costs, giving employees the confidence to take full ownership of their coverage, as they are more likely to elect a benefit if they fully understand it. Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce today, and the vast majority (89%), say that understanding a benefit and how it works is an important factor in deciding which benefits to choose at work.
In our current virtual environment, employers must be able to adapt and address the evolving needs of employees, and that starts with considering how they will handle a virtual open enrollment.
Make the digital environment work for your employees
In order for your employees to take full advantage of their benefits, they first need to understand them. Traditionally, we turn to the benefits fair, and present the options live to employees. However, in today’s environment, in-person enrollment may not be a viable option.
Setting up an entirely virtual benefits fair will be much more common this open enrollment season. Providing an online platform can help employees know all their benefit options, provide detailed explanations of the products available and connect employees directly with benefit counselors to answer questions that may arise. All necessary documents, including presentations, can be hosted online and accessed 24/7 from anywhere, on any device, giving employees easy access to everything they need to know about their benefits
Hosting a successful virtual benefits fair will also allow employees to feel connected and engaged, no matter their physical location. With the time and access to review at their own pace, employees can take full advantage and confidently select benefits coverage, resulting in more informed employees who will benefit from the full scope of their compensation package.
Empower your employees through education
It is important to educate your employees about not just what the coverage is, but how much coverage is right for their situation. Fewer than half of Millennials, only 41%, say they understand accident insurance, and only 38% say they understand short-term disability insurance enough to explain it to a friend. And when we look at Generation Z, the youngest generation in the workforce, even fewer understand the benefits available to them — only 13% say they understand short-term disability insurance. On-demand digital resources, virtual documents and digital tools showcase the added services that come with certain products and can help employees get the most value from their benefits.
Plus, a website where they can access information about each benefit is the top way that Gen Z says they want their employer to educate them about the benefits offered.
Employers don’t have to go it alone — their carriers are partners, and can help support them and provide employees with the education they need to take ownership of their coverage. Dedicated enrollment teams can also answer questions and ensure employees understand the details of their coverage and feel confident in their benefits choices.
Offering digital access to tools and education also allows for employee family participation. Because employees can access documents and any accompanying information from the comfort of home, they can include the people in their lives who will likely be affected by the benefits in the decision-making process.
The right coverage can help ease financial stress
Educating employees about their benefits is even more important in the wake of the evolving COVID-19 situation, and presents a tremendous opportunity for employers to help their employees understand how the benefits they offer can provide financial peace of mind. Without the right financial protections in place, an accident or illness can derail savings, disrupt someone’s ability to provide for their family or drive them into additional debt.
People who have experienced either an unexpected health or medical expense, or had an accident are one and a half times more likely to say that financial stress had a negative impact on their health and/or work performance. Insurance coverages such as disability, accident or critical illness insurance, can help protect employees and their families.
By taking a new look at how we’re working together to educate employees about their benefits in a virtual environment, we can ensure that employees have the protection and coverage they need.
1- CivicScience: Data gathered 4/7/2020 – 4/14/2020
2- Millennial & Gen Z Reflections on Workplace Benefits & Financial Planning, Lincoln Financial and The Center for Generational Kinetics
3- Millennial & Gen Z Reflections on Workplace Benefits & Financial Planning, Lincoln Financial and The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2019
4- Millennial & Gen Z Reflections on Workplace Benefits & Financial Planning, Lincoln Financial and The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2019
5- 2019 Lincoln Financial Focus: Goals and Reflections of the Modern Consumer