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Do you ever wonder why, despite offering comprehensive benefits, employees seem to forget about them after open enrollment?  

The Alliance recently held a webinar featuring Lauren Winans, CEO and Principal HR Consultant at Next Level Benefits, to educate employers about how to sustain employee engagement with their benefit plans. Read on to learn how to create a mindset shift, engage effective communication tactics and promote continuous wellness programs crucial for ensuring your workforce not only remembers and appreciates their benefits but uses them throughout the year. You can also watch the webinar on-demand here.  

Barriers to Employee Engagement  

As employees typically engage with their benefits at the time they need them, keeping employee attention after open enrollment is a challenge for employers. Sometimes, the barriers employees face in understanding and engaging with their benefits may not be obvious. It is important to identify the specific barriers your employees face and tackle them. It’s always a good idea to talk to employees or do a survey to find out what is stopping them from understanding and utilizing their benefits.  

Possible barriers to engagement may include:


Open enrollment typically happens in May-June for plans beginning July 1 or October-December for plans beginning January 1. Directly after open enrollment employees are shifting gears to focus on summer vacations or winter holidays. It’s also essential to recognize that physical health is often taken for granted until it’s compromised. So, employees may not pay attention until they need healthcare services.    

Limited Understanding

Most employees don’t take the time to sit down and understand all parts of their benefits. Or if they do, they may not understand the language used. If employees do not understand their benefits, they can’t understand the value and will not utilize them. Make sure to use simple, understandable language, and clear and concise layouts when communicating with employees.  

Lack of relevance

If certain portions of the benefit plan are not relevant to an employee, they may not pay attention. However, they may need to use these benefits in the future. Make sure all communications are relevant to employees’ needs. Additionally, make information easy to access so employees know where to find information about their benefits when they need it.  

Communication overload

Employees may tune out if they feel overwhelmed with the amount of benefit communications they receive. Make sure to communicate strategically. Think about what you are going to say, when, and what medium you will use. Find out how your employees prefer to receive communications and use those mediums. Options include sending physical mail or flyers, sharing during in-person meetings, via intranet, or mobile apps.  

Engagement Strategy  

Your engagement strategy can be as complex or simple as you want. Remember, more complex is not always better; figure out what works for your organization.  

It is important to revisit your benefit engagement strategy annually. Measuring the effectiveness of your messaging and communication tactics provides valuable insights for making the necessary changes to enhance employee well-being in the upcoming year. 

An effective engagement strategy includes:  

Set strategic goals and areas of focus

It is important to set strategic goals and determine where to focus. How will you improve year over year? What results do you want to see? How will this be measured?  

First, make sure you have a good understanding of your current practices. If you do not know how effective your current practices are, you do not know what improvements will be most effective. Ask employees how they perceive their benefits, what they value, and what they feel could be improved. Ask about their understanding of their benefits and benefit communications. Look at what other companies are doing; use benchmark studies to see how you stack up against competitors and where you can improve. Then, think about how to integrate improvements into your current practices.   

Creating a calendar 

Create a robust communications calendar that educates and reminds employees about their benefits throughout the year. Include health and wellness challenges that reward employees for engaging in healthy behaviors and using preventative benefits. This can help employees prioritize their health throughout the year.  

Including spouses in communications  

Spouses, especially if the employee is male, often make benefit decisions. So, including covered family members in benefits communications is critical for engagement. A good way to incorporate this into an engagement strategy is sending physical mail to employees’ homes. Another option is to include spouses in email communications or even invite them to benefits meetings.  

Communicating information that matters to employees  

Communicate the information that matters for employees to make decisions about their benefits. Types of information that should be sent include:  

  • Important processes (how to enroll, check provider network status, and fill prescriptions) 
  • Cost-saving opportunities (choosing the proper site of care, how to order prescriptions through mail order, and access the EAP) 
  • Educational materials (retirement planning, cost estimate tools, FAQs about benefits 
  • Deadlines (last day to use FSA funds, earn credit for wellness activities, or use-it-or-lose-it PTO) 
  • Free offers (preventative services, flex work, workplace perks, professional development, EAP, company-paid life and AD&D insurance, disability, and other lesser-known benefits) 

Explaining the intention 

Sometimes, employees don’t engage in wellness programs because they think it’s a cost-saving exercise for the company. Show that you have employees’ best interests at heart and how they benefit from participating.  

The Benefits of Engagement  

Employee engagement with their benefit plans is crucial for fostering overall well-being. When employees actively participate in their benefit plans, they experience a positive emotional state, leading to increased job satisfaction and performance. This engagement also plays a vital role in retaining employees and reducing absenteeism. When employees feel that their employers genuinely care about their health and well-being, it fosters a sense of community within the workforce, encouraging employees to take care of each other. This can reduce the risk of workplace injuries and mitigate the effects if an injury occurs because the employee is more comfortable seeking care. By connecting health benefits to the organization’s overall culture, a culture of engagement and wellness is cultivated.  

The Right Benefit Partners Can Help  

A well-designed benefit plan is just the beginning; you cannot create and maintain a holistic benefit program alone. You need the right partners to support your employees in all areas of their health and wellness. Proactively research options offered by different vendors and choose carriers that you can leverage for communications and resource support. Learn more about what to look for in benefit partners here.  

The Alliance creates educational resources employers can share with their employees to help them get the most out of their benefit plans. Reach out to our Account Management team to learn more about the resources we offer our employer-members, including a sample benefit calendar we created to help plan focus areas throughout the year.


Health & Wellness Self-Funding


Events by The Alliance Members & Employers


Health & Wellness Self-Funding


Events by The Alliance Members & Employers
Vicki Faust

Vicki Faust
Account Executive

Vicki Faust joined The Alliance in 2024, serving as an Account Executive for our employer-members and our partners. She has over 25 years of experience, including working as a Large Group Account Executive at Dean Health Plan/Prevea360 and a Large Group Account Executive at WPS Health Insurance.

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