Benefits tech platform conceptEducation is empowerment when it comes to your benefits plan, andyour employees deserve to feel secure in the decisions they makeabout their health care. (Image: Shutterstock)

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Even though your employees pay for and receive benefits,traditional benefits plans often leave them with little to nocontrol over their own plans. Large insurance companies can makeworkers feel like their options for treatment are restricted, andwhen employees do have a wider range of choices, they may not feellike they know enough about their plan to make informeddecisions.

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Giving your employees the power of choice can dramatically increase theirsatisfaction in the workplace, making it morelikely that they'll continue working for you. Your workers deserveto have control over their benefits, and giving it to them is oneway to take care of them as an employer.

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Related: Only half of employees feel they understand theirbenefits

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Here are three ways to give your employees more control overtheir benefits plan:

1. Educated options

Giving your employees more control over their benefits isn'tenough to increase their satisfaction with their plan—they need tofeel confident that they're making the right choices. Educatingyour employees on their benefits options can help them make thebest possible decisions rather than feeling like they're choosingblindly.

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Consider the following tools to help your employees become moreeducated about their benefits plan:

  • One-on-one adviser meetings – Giving yourworkers the opportunity to meet individually with your adviserallows them to ask questions in a no-pressure, confidentialsetting, ensuring that they feel comfortable getting the answersthey need to make informed choices.
  • Easily accessible information – Considerputting information about your employees' benefits at theirfingertips. Many companies are now using digital options such asonline portals and apps to allow their workers to review detailsabout their plans whenever they want.
  • Open communication – Being transparent withyour employees about their plans is crucial to helping them makechoices that benefit themselves and the business as a whole. Opencommunication builds important trust between you and youremployees, letting them know that the information you provide themabout their plan will help them make choices that positively impactthem.

Education is empowerment when it comes to your benefits plan,and your employees deserve to feel secure in the decisions theymake about their health care.

2. Financial incentives

Making your employees feel pressured into making a certainchoice about their plan can have a negative impact on their overallfeelings about their benefits. Working with a great adviser thathelps you save money on your plan can, in turn, provide positiveincentives for your workers to make choices that impact them andyou.

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For example, consider the financial impact of an employeechoosing an outpatient surgery center for knee surgery instead ofthe popular (and expensive) hospital that offers lower-qualitycare. Getting the operation done at the outpatient center mightcost $15,000 instead of the $32,000 the hospital would charge, sooffering a $3,000 bonus to the employee in question would stillleave you with $14,000 in savings.

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This method still gives them the opportunity to choose the moreexpensive option. However, even if they opt for the pricierselection, they aren't punished – they simply lose out on a bonus.This way, your workers have true options available to them ratherthan feeling cornered into making a decision.

3. A-la carte benefits

Many employees under traditional benefits plan are paying forbenefits they don't use. Maybe their benefits are already coveredby their spouse's plan, or maybe specific benefits (such as vision)don't apply to them. In any other industry, paying for unusedservices would seem ridiculous, but in benefits, this practiceusually goes unchecked.

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Instead, consider offering your employees the option of “a-lacarte” benefits. Give them a set amount of money that can only beused for benefits and doesn't go into their paycheck if there arefunds left over. Then, allow them to go on a benefits “shoppingspree” to allocate the money toward the benefits they actuallyneed. Your employees will feel better knowing that the moneythey're spending is being properly used rather than going towaste.

Putting the power in the right hands

Your employees are the ones receiving and paying for theirbenefits, and they deserve to be the ones making the importantchoices about their plan. By giving your workers the education,incentive, and freedom they need to make the best decisions fortheir healthcare, you're making an important investment that willmake your employees happier while helping your entire business.


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Jim Blachek is co-founder of The Benefits Group.

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