How To Show Your Employees You're Thankful

How to Show You're Thankful for Your Employees

Sing me no song, read me no rhyme,

Don't waste my time, show me!

        - Eliza Doolittle, "My Fair Lady"

Yes, Thanksgiving means food, football, Black Friday and the official start to the holiday season (although I'm pretty sure I began to see Christmas decorations out before Halloween was even over). But most of all, it's a day to reflect on the people and things you're most thankful for - including your employees.

Many companies make it a point at this time of year to verbally (i.e., via email or poster) express their appreciation for their workers. While words of gratitude are certainly nice to hear and can mean a lot, it's likely your employees share the sentiment evoked in the lyrics at the beginning of this post: ultimately, talk is cheap without the actions to back it up. That's true in any relationship - from classic Broadway musical romances to employment at your company.

As a benefits professional, you're in a unique position to provide employees with tangible evidence of how much your company values them. Here's how:

Offer benefits that fit your workforce.

Your workforce is a unique mix of different ethnicities, age groups and financial situations, and your benefits offering should reflect that, with an equally unique mix of products and programs that address the varied needs of the employee population.

Take the time to get to know what types of benefits are a good match for your employees. Look at your demographic information and learn as much about your workforce as possible. Perhaps you have a lot of employees fresh out of college, so you may want to consider offering a student loan consolidation and repayment benefit. Or maybe you have a significant number of workers who are raising families, and who might find relief in childcare assistance.

Benefits data analytics tools can provide deep insight to help you identify how employees are currently using their benefits and managing their health, so you have a better idea of any plan changes you need to make. But be sure to supplement that information, as well as your demographic analysis, with actual input from employees. You can conduct surveys and focus groups, and even put potential benefit offerings to a vote. Not only will you gain greater understanding of what your employees want out of your benefits program, you'll also show employees that you value their opinions and are looking out for their interests.

Provide convenient access to benefits information and tools.

As citizens of the 21st century, your employees are always on the go. And they almost always have their smartphone or tablet with them. They've grown accustomed to having the information and tools they need always at their fingertips. Why not give them the same level of access to their benefits?

Picture this. One of your employees - we'll call her Carla - just had a baby, and I mean just had it, like yesterday. Carla knows that she should get her newborn onto her company-sponsored health insurance as soon as possible, but that traditionally tedious process is the last thing she wants to handle right now. But what if she could simply pick up her mobile device, snap a photo of the birth certificate and update her benefits in just a few swipes and clicks - without even leaving the maternity ward?

Life happens. Give your employees the ability to understand and manage their benefits regardless of time or location. With mobile-friendly technology that provides on-demand benefits education and makes enrollment as easy as ordering a new pair of shoes online, you can meet employees where they are. Not only does this give a big boost to your engagement efforts, it also shows employees that you understand how they operate and care enough to accommodate them. Knowing that enrolling in and managing their benefits is probably not something they particularly enjoy doing, at least you can make it as convenient for them as possible.

Guide benefit decisions with personalization.

With employees increasingly taking more ownership of their health care, they need more help to make smart, cost-effective benefit decisions. If employees make a choice that doesn’t fit their individual needs, they could find themselves in a shaky financial situation, which increases the likelihood of stress, negatively impacting job performance, or driving them to skip treatment altogether, which can lead to all sorts of undesirable outcomes - for them and for your company.

That's why personalizing the benefits experience is one of the greatest tokens of appreciation you can give your employees.

Just as your benefits offering should match the expectations of employees, so should the way in which you present that offering. Employees are consumers, and today's consumers are accustomed to companies interacting with them through personalized content that makes it easy to understand how a certain product or service can add value to their lives. To help employees gain the same clarity with respect to their benefits, tailor your communications and enrollment process to the needs of the individual.

Data-driven benefits technology makes this easier than it sounds. With content management tools that allow you to segment your workforce (by location, eligibility level, age, etc.), you can send messages that will resonate with employees on a personal level and drive more meaningful engagement in your benefits program. And, by incorporating individual health claims history into the enrollment experience, you enable your employees to compare benefit plans based on their expected utilization. From there, employees can more easily identify the most cost-effective coverage to fit their health care needs. They'll feel confident in their decisions - and appreciated by their employer, who has empowered them to better navigate this complex and critical part of their lives.

Learn more about how your benefits program can help you show - not just tell - your employees how much you value them. Watch this on-demand webinar highlighting the urgency for financial wellness benefits in the workplace.