pie chartDespite employee benefit satisfaction reaching a record-high 50 percent in 2013, only 36 percent of employers are very satisfied with employee participation in voluntary benefits, according to findings released today from MetLife’s 12th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS). The disconnect between employees’ positive views on benefits and their enrollment actions highlights the need for more tailored benefits education that boosts employee knowledge and confidence in the enrollment process.

“Healthy enrollment rates are a good indicator that an employer’s benefits program is working effectively and the study found that 62 percent of employers say enrollment rates are the most important criteria for evaluating the success of their program,” said Michael Fradkin, senior vice president of Markets and Growth Strategies at MetLife. “According to the Study, 59 percent of employees are very interested in a greater variety of benefits to choose from. However, with more choice, there may also be confusion. If employers add to their benefits offering, but aren’t seeing the employee participation levels they anticipated, this may indicate a need for better benefits education and communications, rather than a lack of interest on the part of employees.”

The MetLife Study finds that employees may be having trouble navigating the different benefit options available to them, with 38 percent of employees reporting they are not very confident they made the right decisions during their last annual enrollment and over half, 53 percent, agreeing they need more help understanding how their benefits work or how benefits meet their needs.

Employers looking to increase employee participation and engagement can follow five enrollment priorities, based on employee findings from the EBTS, to optimize their enrollment tools, tactics and strategies:

• Focus on tools and tactics that matter most to employees. As employers map out an enrollment plan, the tools employees value most should figure prominently.

• Deliver benefits education when and where employees want it. For many employees, the best environment for considering their benefit options is at home with family members; employers should ensure home access to information is available.

• Boost communications by doing the basics better. Better communications can lead to improved engagement. Communications should feature simple language, visuals, messages personalized to employees’ circumstances, and be continuous throughout the year.

• Employees prefer to enroll online, with 41 percent preferring to enroll via a computer compared to 13 percent who prefer a paper ballot.

• Setting measurable goals can lead to greater satisfaction with participation. Employers who say they have established measurable goals for their communication and enrollment activities are more than twice as satisfied with participation in voluntary benefits than those without goals.

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