Remember when Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel famously asked “What is the internet, anyway?” on the TODAY Show in 1994? No? Well, I didn’t either. But I absolutely love how BMW used that clip in their 2015 Super Bowl ad to make the point that big ideas take a little getting used to.
If there’s something the benefits world needs more than ever right now, it’s some big ideas. We’ve been stuck in a fear-induced standstill from ACA that crippled creativity and stalled progress. Employees still don’t know or fully understand what benefits are available to them, and HR has been tasked with pasting together various programs and assuring compliance, while keeping costs contained and improving performance metrics. It’s time to get real, and simply admit, we’re doing it all wrong.
The good news is that we can start doing it right, but we absolutely must address these top 5 issues holding the industry back:
- Engagement: Not just saying it, doing it! Employees need to interact with their benefits in order to value them. The NEW workforce requires a different support structure and communication strategy. For benefits to work, providers must offer 24/7 access, personalization, real-time communication and enhanced functionality.
Read more from Forbes – The evolution of the employee
- Technology: It’s all about creating simple, intuitive user experiences. No paper forms and no logging in to multiple sites. The benefits industry must take cues from the tech world and innovate. Hard costs associated with regulatory compliance, workers comp, open enrollment, and other HR and management concerns can be reduced with ease of access, integrated systems, and creative media.
Read more from Inc. – 10 tech companies shaking up their industries
- Gamification: I know, it sounds so millennial! BUT, employees must be incentivized in order to engage, not only with their benefits but with their company’s benefit initiatives. Challenges and rewards can increase benefits utilization and employees’ satisfaction in their total employment package.
Read more from Business 2 Community – Gamification: The latest employee engagement technique
- Silos: We need to have compatible technology on the HR and vendor side. Most benefit platforms do not offer plug-ins or easy integrations with third-party software and applications. This all-or-nothing, my-way-or-the-highway mentality is preventing benefits providers from addressing the needs of employers in a comprehensive way. The solution: open source systems that allow multiple processes and vendors to interact, including HRMS, payroll and enrollment.
Read more from CheckPointHR – 3 times it pays to have integrated benefits and payroll systems
- Embedded Programs: You cannot commoditize employee benefits. From insurance and healthcare providers to financial firms, it seems like every company is throwing in a “free” benefit with their services. But these embedded benefits, like EAP in a life or LTC plan, are utilized at far lower rates than employer-sponsored plans. A rising awareness of the value of fee-based programs means there is a demand for a certain level of quality, service, and inclusions for each and every benefit.
Read more from Employee Benefit News – EAP and wellness trends to watch in 2015