Businessolver Blog

How Personalization is Transforming Benefits Engagement 

How Personalization is Transforming Benefits Engagement 
Posted on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 by Sherri Bockhorst

After five years, 85% of employees are still confused about their benefits. It’s clear, employees will never be benefits experts. And they shouldn’t have to be. Businessolver’s 2023 data shows that the key to bridging the gap is personalization. 

It’s no surprise that employees are (still) confused about their benefits. The data continues to tell us year over year that employees are struggling to connect the dots between their wellness, lifestyle needs, and benefits.  

Similarly, HR and benefits decision-makers are faced with two huge, and somewhat conflicting, priorities: drive employee engagement across the benefits program while managing (or perhaps defending) costs on the budget. With healthcare costs continuing to rise—6-10% in 2023 alone—HR must find a way to manage costs, drive value across the employee experience, and stay competitive in today’s economic and talent landscape. 

Luckily, our 2023 Benefits Insights Report uncovered the key to making this happen: Personalization. Check out our top-line findings below, or dive right into the report for the nitty-gritty insights (and some helpful HR action items). 

Benefits confusion is up. Employee financial preparedness is down. 

Eighty-five percent of employees say they’re confused about their benefits—this is up 2 points from our 2022 Benefits Insights Report and the trend shows no signs of improving from when we first released this report in 2019.  

Employees also still have a limited understanding of how their finances, lifestyle, and overall health should factor into their benefits selection and utilization. Overall, 45% of employees would feel panicked about a large, unexpected expense (like an ER bill), up one point from 2022. Likewise, 37% said they would go into debt or aren’t sure how they would pay for such an unexpected expense.  

Women, in particular face financial wellness challenges. The data showed that women are less financially prepared overall for unexpected events compared to men—52% of women said they’d feel panicked about a large, unexpected expense versus 39% of men. And, 43% of women don’t have a rainy-day fund to cover such an expense versus 34% of men.  

The data paints a grim picture, but things don’t (and shouldn’t) have to stay this way. In today’s economy, employees are more likely to view their benefits as an extension of their paychecks, but they need help understanding how to optimize the total benefits package to benefit their unique needs. Personalized decision support technology can help employees connect the dots from their needs to the value of the benefits available to them.  

Technology is poised to shape the future of employee benefits. 

We’re in a digital age—85% of Americans own a smartphone and our data shows us that 97% of employees prefer email as their primary method of benefits communication. Technology, especially in the form of a phone, is quickly becoming the primary tool for interacting with peers, colleagues, and benefits, whether you’re reading an email or looking up your deductible. In fact, 46% of employees log into the Benefitsolver platform five or more times per year and nearly a quarter of those logins (23%) are via the MyChoice® mobile app.   

When we looked at employees’ behavior across the Benefitsolver platform, a few findings stuck out: 

  • 39% of all calls into our service center were resolved by our technology (such as Sofia or an automated message), meaning the employee didn’t need to wait on hold for a live rep to answer their question.  
  • 67% of all employees turned to Sofia first for help via chat and 90% of those interactions were resolved on the same day.  
  • 97% of employees prefer email as their primary method of benefits communication and 45% is the average open rate for benefits-related emails. (Marketing email open rates typically hover at less than half that, 21%.) 

Employees are making a good-faith effort throughout the year to use their benefits. Where they often get stymied is when there’s a lack of personalization (i.e. relevancy) in play. It’s pretty simple when you think about it: if employees understand why a benefit is important and relevant to them, they’ll be more likely to engage because there’s personal value tied to it. 

Personalization can help HR improve the employee benefits experience. 

You might be asking yourself, “How the heck am I supposed to personalize a benefits program across my entire employee base?” 

Our answer: Double down on technology that will enable you to scale value across the entire employee benefits experience while helping guide employees toward optimal choices for their individual health and wealth needs.  

We found that when decision support was available to employees during open enrollment, they were nearly three times more likely to elect a plan that was best suited for their individual wellbeing, financial, and emotional needs. Additionally, year-round benefits emails saw a 45% average open rate when they were targeted towards employees whose behaviors in the platform indicated a current or upcoming need for a relevant point solution or elected benefit.  

Despite a tough economy and rising costs, there’s no better time for HR and benefits decision-makers to press the refresh button on their employee benefits strategies. Employees are ready to actively engage with their benefits beyond the 15 minutes it takes to enroll, but they need holistic, personalized support when it comes to understanding the value of what’s available to them and how to put those benefits to work year-round. 

Our full findings look beyond the single moment of enrollment, building out a holistic view of employee benefits.