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Why Employees Don’t Open Their Benefits Guides

And What You Can Do About It


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Employee benefits are a big deal—making up nearly a third of an employee’s total compensation. You spend a lot of money and time to get employees on board with their benefits—and studies show that the majority of employees want to know even more.

So when employees don’t read the materials, it raises a big question—how can we get them to actually open their guides?

4 Ways Benefit Guides Fail Employees

There’s just too much text

We get it. You have a lot to say about your benefits—and most of it is really important. But we also know people can get overwhelmed with columns of text on a page. Chances are that when they see big blocks of text, they will skip right over it.

To be inclusive of all learning styles and reading levels, break benefits down using easy-to-understand language and short bursts of information. Options such as our navigation-enhanced guides, employee benefits hubs, and self-guided presentations give employees the ability to consume information at their own pace.

Benefits jargon is confusing

The average person gets stumped at health insurance speak—words like “coinsurance” and “aggregate deductible” can make a person break out in a cold sweat. That’s why benefits communication needs to be simple. Leonardo da Vinci said it best: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

In approaching benefits communication, we create materials with employees in mind. Making benefits easy to understand and interesting to read turns uninformed employees into savvy health care consumers.

The design falls flat

Everyone knows that eye-catching graphics entice people to read the attached content. If the cover is boring or the design inside doesn’t grab their attention, chances are they’ll slap that guide shut faster than we can say “flexible spending account.” Luckily, our team at CPI knows how to turn boring benefits into award-winning guides. Bringing in pops of color, exciting pictures, beautiful landscapes, and pleasing white space helps make the reading experience a good one.

The details, costs, and decisions are stressing them out

While most employers cover the majority of the cost of healthcare coverage, employees are still on the hook for their portions. Since health care prices keep increasing each year, employee premiums are taking a big bite out of their paychecks. Add on costs for dental and vision insurance, additional insurances such as life, disability, supplemental medical coverage, and pet insurance, and the dollars add up quickly.

Employees also worry about making the wrong decisions:

  • Should they choose the HDHP or PPO?
  • How much should they contribute to their HSA or FSA?
  • Should they purchase additional life insurance for their spouse and children?

Understanding their concerns is the first step to creating benefits materials they will read. Take our Decisions Guide for example. It leads employees step by step through their benefits decisions and helps them choose the plans that are right for their lifestyle, goals, and budget.

The Takeaway

Informed employees are better prepared to make important health care decisions. Getting employees to read their benefits guide is just the start. Year-round communication keeps benefits at the top of their minds. By breaking benefits into bite-size pieces, employees become more engaged and informed.

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