In the 21st century, benefits professionals can feel like David working to overcome Goliath-like concerns around rising costs, employee engagement, regulatory compliance, data security – all while meeting business objectives.
With so much to do, it’s easy to take charge and make executive decisions based on what our employees want … or, rather, what we think they want. It’s with the best intentions, of course. However, many times, leaders are so committed to what they think is right for their organization, a project, or customer that they become resistant to persuasive arguments – or hard evidence – otherwise, to the detriment of the group they’re leading. We’re all guilty of doing it at some point right? I know I am.
Mike Wagner recently reminded me of this when discussing that we all have one of three natural “states” when it comes to how we interact with customers/employees: Tell, accept, or guess. We either tell our employees what is best for them, we accept that our employee knows what they want, or we guess what our employees want. While one of these states comes to all of us more naturally than the others, we all must work toward achieving the most powerful state, which is discovery.
In the discovery state, we take time to discover the right experience by asking the right questions. Recently, LIMRA highlighted the need for enhanced discovery in a survey about employees’ preferences for benefits enrollment. The LIMRA report shows that 68 percent of employees want to enroll in their benefits online or electronically. However, the same survey finds that only 38 percent of employers think that their employees want to use a computer to enroll, and more than a quarter believe that their employees want to enroll with paper forms.
Clearly, there is a disconnect between what employers think employees want vs. what they actually want. This disconnect, unfortunately, puts your benefits strategy at risk. Assuming that you know what is best for your employees or telling them can easily be mistaken as a lack of empathy, even when HR has best intentions at heart.
Talking to your employees about annual enrollment and understanding what they want and need from the process is critical to engaging them in their benefits – both now during annual enrollment and throughout the year!