Helping employees make the most out of their benefits options through a personalized, easy and convenient enrollment process

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1 Guardian in sync Delivering Value september 2012 Benefits & Behavior: Spotlight on the Benefits of an Employee-Centric Enrollment Experience Helping employees make the most out of their benefits options through a personalized, easy and convenient enrollment process In order to create a successful employee benefits offering, employers must balance the cost of managing benefits and meeting employee needs. However, offering more benefits is not the best way to improve employees satisfaction with their overall benefits. Focus on enhancing the employee benefits user experience in the form of communications and education delivered via multiple channels can ultimately lead employees to greater confidence in their benefits decision making, greater satisfaction with their overall benefits package and greater loyalty to their employer. Key Findings Fewer than half (49%) of employees are very satisfied with the overall benefits program their employers offer. (40%) and mail (36%), received either at home or at work, are the most preferred ways to receive benefits information. 57% of employees currently enroll in their benefits online, but eight in 10 prefer this method. R Proprietary Guardian research

2 Research Findings 1. employers must balance benefits cost management and meeting employee needs: The key is to improve the employee benefits user experience. Given recent economic conditions and uncertainty around health care reform, employers have had the particularly difficult task of balancing the cost management of employee benefits with offering packages that meet employees needs. While companies continue to offer more benefits choices to employees, many employers are disappointed with what they are providing. A need has arisen for employers to make effective employee benefits communication and education a priority in their business in order to increase participation and satisfaction. Fewer than four in 10 employers (37%) say that their benefits communications are very effective in helping employees make the right choices about benefits. That lack of confidence in communications contributes to their perceptions about benefits overall: Only 42% of employers believe that their employees are very satisfied with the overall benefits program offered. And employers are correct: The majority of employees are not satisfied with their overall benefits. Just 34% say that the benefits communications they receive are very effective. And fewer than half (49%) say that they are very satisfied with their overall benefits packages. So, what can employers do to improve employee satisfaction with the benefits packages that they provide? An answer that emerges from this study is that employees have distinct communications, enrollment and product usage needs, and their engagement with their benefits improves when these needs are met. Today s employees are savvy about how they best learn about benefits, and find it most helpful to receive benefits communications via multiple channels. After they have made their benefits decisions, however, the vast majority of employees want online, self-service options in order to enroll in benefits and manage them going forward. Addressing these needs as a comprehensive user experience, by treating employees like customers and putting them front and center during benefits education, enrollment and post-enrollment is the first step. This, in turn, will help employees make more informed benefits decisions that are right for them, and improve their satisfaction and engagement with these benefits.

3 2. multiple-channel communications and enrollment is preferred by employees and can help reach and inform them, allowing them to make better decisions regarding their financial and personal needs. Employees today consume all different types of information from multiple sources at home and at the workplace: Not surprisingly, this affects how they would like to be communicated to, including how they learn about the benefits their employers offer. Employees prefer that their benefits communications be offered or reinforced through multiple channels. When receiving information about benefits via , online, group sessions at work and by mail, employees have more opportunities to be exposed to the messages, increasing the likelihood that they will make better benefits decisions. In addition, when communications are offered in multiple channels, they are more convenient and accessible to the worker. age Does Not Have a Major Impact on Benefits Communications Preferences In terms of how employees want to receive benefits communications, , either at home or at work, is the top choice (40%). Surprisingly, was followed closely by traditional mail, either at home or at work (36%). Other ways that employees like to receive benefits-related information include one-on-one meetings during work hours (28%), watching online, non-interactive online presentations (25%), group meetings during work hours (24%), and videos or DVDs (19%). The popularity of these top channels is consistent across age groups, with Millennials, Gen Xers, and early and late Baby Boomers preferring the same options in the same order of preference. Top Six Preferences for Receiving Benefits Information 24% 19% 40% , received either at home or at work Mail, received either at home or at work 25% 36% One-on-one meetings during the work day Online non-interactive presentation Group meetings, seminars during the work day 28% Video, CD-ROM or DVD presentation

4 Interest in receiving benefits information via social media is currently low, with just 5% of employees preferring to receive benefits communications through this channel. This may indicate that overall, workers do not consider social media an appropriate channel for receiving benefits-related information. Although Millennial workers (defined as ages in this study) are more likely than other age groups to choose social media as an option (14%), this still represents a small minority. Prefer to Receive Benefits Information via Social Media All Employees Millennials 5% 14% Multiple Channels is Key Workers today value choice and convenience in benefits-related matters. Rather than gravitating toward a single channel when asked to select their preferences, each employee chose an average of three ways to receive benefits-related information. Some employees, in particular, are interested in receiving benefits through many more channels. One in five workers said that they would like to receive benefits communications through six or more options. These employees tend to be from larger companies (2,000+ employees), suggesting that these companies offer not just more benefits options but more ways to receive benefits-related information. In terms of types of information channels, some workers prefer low-touch options like and mail that they can read or view on their own at a convenient time and place without significant help from HR or other resources. Others prefer more high-touch methods, like meetings or interactive online presentations, which involve talking with HR or some other benefits-related professional in order to learn about their benefits. However, most workers say that they prefer both high- and low-touch channels (60%). Preferences for Receiving Benefits Information Prefer Low-Touch only ; Mail; Online non-interactive presentation; Video, CD-ROM or DVD Mobile devices; Social media Prefer a Mix of Low- and High-Touch Prefer High-Touch only One-on-one in-person meetings; Group meetings; Phone call from benefits provider; Interactive webinar 20% 60% 21%

5 3. self-service tools for enrollment are increasingly becoming important as workers seek greater convenience and accessibility. Although receiving benefits-related information through multiple channels is important when communicating to and educating workers so that they can make the best benefits decisions, it is less important for benefits-related activities like enrollment where channel preference is shifting heavily to an online approach. Employees today are becoming increasingly comfortable with self-service approaches beyond just employee benefits (e.g., online bill payments, online travel arrangements and online shopping). The trend is moving towards self-reliance, convenience, speed and accessibility, all of which are supported by self-service tools. A strong majority of workers (80%) say they want the ease and convenience of signing up for benefits online, so they can enroll by themselves when and where they choose. Employers, however, are not fully meeting this need despite an obvious preference. While eight in ten employees prefer to enroll online, only six in ten say they were able to do this. Channel for Enrolling in Benefits 90 % 80 % 80% 70 % 60 % 57% 50 % 40 % 39% 30 % 20 % 10 % 0 % Online 13% Paper/ Mail it in 7% 7% By phone with insurance company representative 2%.5% By phone via an automated voice response system Currently Do This Prefer this Method

6 Similarly, in submitting claims, when one might expect employees to seek more one-on-one personal support, employees say they strongly prefer the self-service, online approach (80%). Unfortunately, only 54% of employees say they can currently file a claim online. As noted above, a key factor in the preference for self-service, online options for enrollment and other benefits-related activities is accessibility. Employees want the option to conduct benefits-related activities when and where it is convenient for them. When asked about where they typically access benefits-related activities online, employees are almost as likely to say home as work : 55% percent say they typically use a work computer to conduct benefits activities, while 44% percent say they typically use a home computer. Although the trend is shifting to self-service tools for conducting benefits-related activities, no one type of channel or method is the complete answer. Understanding the increasing importance of self-service and online tools in relation to traditional methods will be a key to offering the best employee experience throughout the enrollment process. 4. when employees have benefits-related communications and education delivered in their preferred channels, they are more likely to feel confident and satisfied with their benefits decisions. Employees who receive benefits communications through the multiple channels they prefer are more likely to say that they are confident that the benefits selections they made are right for them. Do not receive benefits communications by their preferred channel Receive benefits communications by their preferred channel I am very confident that the benefits selections I made are right for me 57% 70% In turn, employee confidence in their benefits choices contributes to very positive attitudes about overall benefits. Employees who are very confident in their benefits decisions are more likely to say that their company offers benefits that meet their personal needs and that those benefits are affordable to them. They also rate the overall value of their benefits more highly.

7 And perhaps most importantly for employers, employees who are confident in their benefits choices are also much more likely to be satisfied with their company s employee benefits package. While under half of all employees are very satisfied with their company s employee benefits packages, more than 70% of employees who are confident in their benefits selections are very satisfied. 90 % 80 % 73% 80% 79% 71% 70 % 60 % 50 % 52% 54% 57% 49% 40 % 30 % 20 % 10 % 0 % My company offers benefits that are affordable to me My company offers benefits that meet my personal needs The benefits my employer provides to me are very valuable I am very satisfied with my company s employee benefits package Employees overall Are confident that they have made the right decision And while it is no surprise that providing enrollment channels in the way that employees want them, i.e., primarily online, does not affect confidence in benefits selection, it does impact satisfaction with the benefits package overall. When employees are able to enroll for benefits in the channel they prefer, employees overall satisfaction with those benefits improves. Do not enroll in benefits using their preferred channel Enroll in benefits by using their preferred channel I am very satisfied with my company s employee benefits package 49% 60%

8 5. greater employee confidence in and satisfaction with their benefits can contribute to greater appreciation and loyalty. Satisfaction with benefits and confidence in benefits decisions has a significant impact on how workers feel about their jobs and their employer. An improved user experience provided by the employer that truly caters to workers needs has a profoundly positive impact on an employee s level of loyalty and engagement to that employer. Employees who are more confident about their benefits selections and those who are more satisfied with their benefits packages are more likely to have a higher perceived value of their company s benefits. This segment of employees also tends to have longer tenure with their current employer and is more likely to be working for their current employer one year from now. Ultimately, many factors contribute to heightened loyalty and an appreciation for benefits among employees. However, improving the user experience, and making their needs a priority by marketing to and educating them through appropriate channels, and providing tools that increase convenience and accessibility, will play a significant role in driving greater appreciation for and utilization of employee benefit offerings. Employees overall Are very confident that they ve made the right benefits decisions Not at all confident that they ve made the right benefits decisions Are very satisfied with their company s employee benefits package Not at all satisfied with their company s employee benefits package Perceived value of benefits (1-10pt. scale) Likelihood will be at current employer one year from now 76% 83% 54% 85% 62% Median tenure with current employer 7 years 8 years 5 years 9 years 6 years Contact your Guardian Group sales representative for more information.

9 R GuardianLife.com About the study: This study was an online survey fielded during May and June 2012 and consists of two surveys: One among 1,071 benefits plan sponsors ( Employers ) and another among 1,667 benefits plan participants ( Employees ). This year s study was conducted for Guardian by the Center for Strategy Research, a Boston-based, independent, market research firm. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, 7 Hanover Square New York NY

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