Benefits Decision Support: Study Says Workers Want More Choice

Ben Renner | | Benefits Decision Support

benefits decision support tools help employeesBenefits decision-support tools are designed to help present benefits options to employees, especially healthcare and wellness programs. The more personalized these tools are, the more employees will use them. So, if healthcare choices are limited or if they don’t fit employee needs, why use benefits decision-support tools at all?

In a study by Willis Towers Watson, 31% of employers surveyed said appropriate options are the highest healthcare priority for their company over the next three years. 74% said they believe they offer enough employee health-benefit options. However, 54% don’t have a strategy that allows them to determine if these options sufficiently address employees’ needs.

This is where benefits decision-support tools come in. They help communicate employee benefits offerings, especially for health insurance, and show how those options impact specific situations. The goal of benefits decision-support tools isn’t to force employees onto cheaper, insufficient plans. The goal is to help find them right plan for each of them. When workers can rest easy and know their medical expenses are covered, they perform better.

Why Choice Matters

Employees are getting smarter about their benefits. With the resources now available, they can get more information on health plans than ever before. They want to comparison shop for healthcare the way they do for everything else. The WTW survey shows the desire to provide better information and healthcare options, but it also shows employers aren’t where they feel they need to be.

44% of employers said they were confident in their benefits information, and 75% said they hope to provide workers with the tools needed to make informed decisions. But only just over half of employers said they have decision-support tools to help employees make those choices.

Creating a Listening Strategy

Investment in health insurance and employee benefits won’t have the chance to provide high returns unless there are communication strategies in place too. More specifically, listening strategies need to be adopted. These help employers listen to their employees. Employers need to learn what workers truly want and need from benefits plans.

benefits need to match employees' changing needsBenefits decision-support tools allow employees to decide for themselves. But before they make decisions, they need options that work for them. As organizations note that workers need more options, they’re closing the gap between what they offer and what employees want. In the future, this will lead to more insurance plans that are tailored to specific workforces. Employers will be able to provide employees with just the health plans they’re looking for, along with the ability to adjust and shift them over time as needs change.

The bottom line is, employees are expecting more from their employers. They expect their benefits package to go beyond just health insurance. The WTW report shows 28% of organizations surveyed offer a holistic benefits approach to the employee experience. But 59% are considering rolling benefits together to include in-demand options, like financial planning, retirement savings plans and health savings accounts. The time to invest in benefits decision-support tools is now if you want employees to enroll and use what you offer.

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