Tuesday, Jun 13, 2023

The Business Case for Boosting Benefits Engagement: Improving Employee Wellness, Retention, and the Bottom Line

Joel NihleanSenior Content Development Manager, bswift


It's no secret that employee wellness and benefits engagement are important. A company is only as strong as its employees. However, a robust wellness program that encourages benefits utilization does more than just create healthy, happy employees. Better benefits engagement can also boost the bottom line. 

A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of bwift surveyed 300 HR and EX professionals in February 2023 and found an increased focus on employee wellbeing and benefits engagement—more than 80% of respondents agreed that improving benefits offerings, awareness, accessibility is a priority. But, overall, utilization is still low.

Don't miss out on the full survey results and insights on what drives a culture of wellness and how to improve employee engagement with benefits.

To improve the employee experience, recruitment, retention, morale, and productivity, you need to know how to cultivate a culture of wellness that’s supported by robust benefits engagement. When you promote better employee benefits engagement, you can enjoy better business outcomes.

Employers that don’t address the root causes of low benefits engagement risk employee burnout and other issues that hurt retention and ultimately hit the bottom line. 

The causes of low benefits engagement

Seventy-one percent of the survey respondents agreed that their employees underutilize employee benefits. Low engagement is concerning, but HR can take proactive steps to improve things. However, before we can solve the problem, we need to understand it.

Forrester identified these as causes of low benefits engagement:

  • Lack of a "wellness culture": When wellness is not part of the fabric of an organization, it can set off a downward spiral. Employees are less likely to engage their benefits. Poor engagement leads to decreased employee retention and the loss of top talent. 
  • Limited benefit awareness: Many HR and EX leaders pointed to educational barriers to benefit participation. Simply put, many employees are just unaware of all the benefits available to them. This is a missed opportunity to improve employee wellness through better benefits engagement.
  • Inadequate communication, education, resources: Even when employees are aware of their benefits, organizations struggle to effectively communicate value and purpose. Poor messaging, education, and awareness keep employees from fully understanding how these benefits can positively impact their wellbeing.
  • Struggling with benefits tech: Clunky user experiences and inaccessible benefits platforms discourage employees, too. So, even if everything else is running smoothly, bad tech hinders benefits utilization and undermines the effectiveness of otherwise great wellness programs.

How to cultivate a culture of wellness: Boost benefits engagement 

Employers must review and enhance benefits, foster active employee listening, and evaluate and optimize benefit program implementation, management, messaging, and maintenance—including technology, UX, and employee communications.

Improving employee wellness means getting employees to engage with their benefits. Here’s how:

  1. Regularly evaluate employee benefits: Conduct a comprehensive audit of your current benefits program to ensure it aligns with evolving needs and expectations. Assess the relevance and impact of benefits and consider making changes to enhance benefits engagement. 
  2. Actively listen to employee feedback: Employee feedback was the number one metric for 81% of directors and manager-level survey respondents. Create channels for employees to provide feedback and concerns regarding benefits. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and better benefits solutions
  3. Bridge the knowledge gap: Make sure your employees know the benefits available to them. Over 50% of survey respondents said they’re already expanding messaging and education on employee benefits. Consider creating comprehensive messaging campaigns to help highlight the value and purpose of each benefit. 
  4. Invest in user-friendly benefits technology: An intuitive and easy-to-navigate benefits platform that seamlessly integrates with core systems and partner platforms can enhance benefits engagement. That’s probably why more than 70% of surveyed decision-makers are investing in new employee benefit platforms, improving the user experience of existing platforms, or both.

Build a business case for better benefits engagement

Engaging employees with benefits is crucial for both employee well-being and business success. However, many companies overlook the role HR plays in achieving this. 

Poor benefits engagement can lead to burnout and stress, impacting both operational efficiency and company culture. To prioritize employee well-being and benefits engagement as critical business imperatives, HR professionals need to build a strong business case. 

Some key considerations include:

  • Improved business health: Poor benefits engagement can lead to increased burnout and chronic stress levels, ultimately burdening both operational efficiency and company culture. Prioritizing employee well-being and benefits engagement can help to reduce the risk of burnout, improve employee morale, and create a more positive workplace culture.
  • Talent acquisition and retention: In today’s fluctuating job market, employees have more diverse employment options. They’re less willing to accept burnout and unhealthy work environments. By prioritizing employee well-being and benefits engagement, organizations can differentiate themselves from competitors and attract and retain top talent.
  • Increased productivity: Engaged and healthy employees are more productive, creative, and innovative. Investing in employee well-being and benefits engagement can improve overall productivity, drive business growth, and enhance the bottom line.
  • Lower healthcare costs: Engaged employees are more likely to participate in the programs you invest in and in turn less likely to experience chronic health conditions and require costly medical interventions, meaning lower healthcare costs for both the organization and individual employees.

Benefits engagement is essential for employee wellbeing and organizational success

A culture of wellness isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s critical not only for improving the employee experience, but also business success. Ignoring that reality risks impacts on talent acquisition and retention, productivity, and healthcare costs.

A robust culture of wellness is driven by strong benefits engagement. Employers that want to see that engagement need to take proactive steps. They need to review and enhance benefits, foster active employee listening, and optimize their benefits program implementation and technology to effective employee communications.

That’s how HR can translate employee wellness into tangible, bottom-line benefits for the organization. 


Don't miss out on the opportunity to improve your company's benefits engagement and bottom line. Visit bswift.com to learn more.

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