5 Steps to Improve Employee Satisfaction with Benefits

5 Steps to Improve Employee Satisfaction with Benefits

This article was first published in BenefitsPro.

Employee benefits are crucial to the satisfaction and productivity of any workforce. Research has consistently shown a direct link between the perceived quality of benefits employers offer and overall employee job satisfaction. For example, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 92% of employees say benefits are critical to their overall job satisfaction.

However, despite their importance, there is often a gap between the benefits 0employers offer and the benefits employees value most. According to research from MetLife, employee satisfaction with their benefits fell to 61% in 2023, down from 64% in 2022 and the lowest point in the past decade.

Addressing this gap is not about just adding more benefits. It can also involve enhancing (or educating employees on) the right benefits to meet their evolving needs and those of their families. More specifically, it involves advancing your communications through a variety of methods to communicate how benefits can support employees in their time of need.

What can organizations do to drive employee satisfaction with their benefits? Here are five steps that make a difference, regardless of the company type or the benefits being offered.

1. Understand your “why”

The first step is to assess your current benefits strategy. Does it align with your organization’s overall talent strategy? Does it meet the diverse needs of your workforce? More importantly, can your benefits team clearly articulate why you offer the benefits you do and how you measure their success?

It’s crucial to evaluate the effectiveness of your current program. This assessment must go beyond cost analysis to consider how actively employees engage with each benefit.

Where possible, collaborate with your benefits administration provider and broker or consultant to compare engagement levels with other clients using the same enrollment platform.

Benchmarking your benefits program against industry standards can provide valuable insights into its effectiveness. By analyzing data on benchmarks such as employee and family participation rates, claims utilization, and satisfaction levels across similar organizations, you can identify areas where your program excels and areas that may need improvement.

Understanding your “why” will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current offerings and develop a more targeted strategy — one that personalizes benefits and your communication and outreach strategies for each individual.

2. Invest in deep personalization

Personalization isn’t the future of employee benefits — it’s the present. A one-size-fits-all approach to benefits design, communication, education, and employee outreach no longer works and leaves many needs unmet. A personalized benefits approach empowers individuals to choose options that align with their specific circumstances.

For instance, some employees may prioritize higher HSA contributions, while others may prefer comprehensive health coverage or wellness programs. Additionally, some individuals may need guidance to navigate and discover these valuable programs for themselves and their families.

It’s crucial to educate employees on how to choose the right benefits and effectively use the benefits they select. This ongoing education ensures that employees maximize the value of their benefits package.

By using personalized strategies based on each member’s data and behaviors, you meet employees where they are and empower them to make choices that best support their lifestyle and wellbeing. This leads to higher employee satisfaction, increased engagement, and, ultimately, a more productive workforce and better return on the dollars you and your employees invest in these plans.

3. Get useful feedback from employees

One of the most effective ways to ensure your benefits resonate with your workforce is simple: Ask them! Historically, attempts to collect feedback have been generic — surveys, focus groups, or town hall meetings. However, these methods often lead to confusing and conflicting feedback.

In today’s world of hyper-personalization, a more effective approach is to ask for feedback in real time or shortly after employees use their benefits.

Analyzing employee behavior and capturing feedback at or near the time they use their benefits offers at least three advantages:

  1. A deeper understanding of employee needs. Real-time feedback provides more accurate and relevant insights into what employees value and require.
  2. Behavior change. Timely education and suggestions can encourage employees to make better-informed decisions regarding their benefits. For example, notifying an employee when they become eligible for a wellness incentive or other program can increase participation.
  3. A stronger connection between employees and benefits. Personalized feedback fosters a sense of ownership and engagement, leading to increased appreciation for the benefits offered.

By adopting a more targeted and personalized approach to feedback, you can ensure your benefits resonate with your workforce and drive higher satisfaction and engagement.

4. Leverage technology for benefits advocacy

A significant barrier to benefits satisfaction is simply a lack of knowledge about what’s available. Most employees spend less than 30 minutes reviewing information when they select benefits during open enrollment. You can have a great benefits program with many choices for individuals. But if employees never know about or understand those options, it can lead to dissatisfaction. Not only does this fail to maximize the return on investment in these programs, we might actually be diminishing the overall return.

Leveraging AI-powered tools can enhance benefits communication and education. AI-driven platforms can deliver personalized, jargon-free communications tailored to each employee’s needs and preferences. Additionally, virtual assistants can offer 24/7 support, answering employee questions and guiding them through complex benefits information.

Employers can meanwhile leverage AI-powered analytics to gain insights into benefits utilization and use this information to identify areas where education may be lacking. By analyzing pharmacy, medical, and behavioral data, employers can pinpoint specific benefits that are underutilized or misunderstood.

This data-driven approach allows for targeted communication and education initiatives, ensuring that employees are aware of and understand the full range of benefits available to them.

5. Adapt to employees’ shifting needs

To satisfy your workforce’s changing needs, consider a dynamic benefits approach that evolves alongside your people.

This means offering a range of benefits that cater to different life stages and personal circumstances. For example, younger employees may value student loan repayment assistance or financial planning resources, while employees starting families might prioritize enhanced parental leave or childcare benefits. As employees progress in their careers and lives, their needs are likely to shift toward elder care support or comprehensive retirement planning.

By leveraging technology, you can proactively identify these changing needs and tailor your benefits offerings accordingly. This data-driven approach ensures that your benefits package remains relevant and valuable to employees throughout their entire journey with your company.

Think of it like a GPS navigation system. Just as GPS dynamically adjusts the route based on real-time traffic conditions and the driver’s destination, so too should your benefits package adapt to the changing landscape, needs, and goals of your employees. This will ensure they are always on the right track to improving their overall wellbeing.

At every step: Improve your benefits with intent

The key to maximizing your benefits offering is to actively engage with, and listen to, the needs of your employees, offer them flexibility and education, and don’t be afraid to make changes.

Creating a better benefits experience makes a difference. This not only boosts satisfaction but also reinforces your organization’s commitment to its most valuable asset — its people.

Using Positive Benefit & People Experiences to Combat K-12 Educator Burnout

Using Positive Benefit & People Experiences to Combat K-12 Educator Burnout

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and If you’re a caregiver to a school-aged child, you may have attended a celebratory breakfast or contributed to a classroom gift in honor of the millions of educators across this nation who are shaping future generations.

Teaching is consistently cited as one of the most rewarding paid professions in the U.S., and the gratitude shown towards educators during events like Teacher Appreciation Week undoubtedly helps teachers feel recognized, reinforcing the meaning of their work. However, the cost-reward balance of a career in education has reached a critical tipping point, and many educators say that they continue to feel that their well-being is not prioritized by their employers.

In fact, research conducted by McKinsey & Company found that 75 percent of educators say they put more into their job than they receive, and 69 percent say that their total compensation does not reflect their qualifications, efforts, value, or output.

Unfortunately, many educators do not recognize the true value of their total compensation, whether it be in the form of healthcare benefits, mental health resources, pensions or retirement plans, or other wellness programs.

Additionally, communication challenges can plague this unique, deskless workforce, making it all the more critical that districts ensure that their people understand and leverage the support available to them.

K-12 Educators are Leaving Their Posts at an Alarming Rate

Unfortunately, the number of K-12 educators is dwindling at an alarming rate, a trend that began even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. After 2020, new issues emerged and existing ones were amplified, driving an estimated 55 percent of educators to consider leaving the profession earlier than they had planned.

The same study, conducted by the National Education Association, also found that a disproportionate number of those looking to leave the education field “are Black (62%) and Hispanic/Latino (59%) educators, already underrepresented in the teaching profession.”

Not only is teacher turnover high, but the pipeline to replace those teachers is in jeopardy as well. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) says that enrollment in colleges of education has been steadily declining for the past decade. The AACTE says that concerns about pay and working conditions have been a long-standing contributor to the decline, but recent increases in educator-reported stress, legislative pressures and public scrutiny on curriculum, and increased shortages driving unsustainable classroom sizes are predicted to continue to drive a recurring cycle of teacher shortages and exits from the field.

Those considering leaving the field represent just one piece of an alarming cycle of staff shortages, workplace stress and burnout, and eventual turnover that is expected to impact educators and students for years to come.  

The Impact of Educator Burnout & Turnover on Student Learning

A recent data analysis conducted by Chalkbeat shows that more teachers than ever left their posts last year. Their analysis also saw a troubling uptick in teachers leaving their classrooms mid-school year, making it even more challenging to replace them, and creating additional stressors for educators forced to absorb the workloads of exiting teachers.

While employee turnover also skyrocketed across the private sector during The Great Resignation, experts say that turnover in public education is much more meaningful and detrimental to a district’s ability to make up for pandemic-era learning loss and build a strong sense of community across its students.

“Teacher attrition can be destabilizing for schools,” said Kevin Bastian, a researcher at the University of North Carolina. Bastian’s research found that successful, effective teachers were increasingly leaving their positions as well, leaving an even greater void across many districts already struggling with limited resources.

Research conducted by Stanford University has cited the negative impacts of teacher turnover on student achievement, most negatively impacting underfunded districts and those with high proportions of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch. Learning loss is cited to be fueled by issues like losing relationships with trusted educators, an influx of early career or inexperienced teachers, and in many cases – no replacement teachers at all.

What is Driving Educator Turnover?

Data across time and different survey groups show that workplace stress is the most common reason cited for leaving public education before retirement.

While high rates of workplace stress and burnout are impacting American workers across all professions, the impact is disproportionately high amongst those in education. A 2021 study conducted by RAND Corp. found that 25 percent of teachers reported symptoms of depression. Declining mental health was not just concentrated to teachers – school administrators are also experiencing not only their own workplace stress, but also the stress of supporting the mental health and well-being of their teachers.

A 2022 Gallup Poll on occupational burnout listed teachers as one of the top two roles experiencing ongoing workplace stress and burnout, and 44 percent of K-12 teachers say they very often or always feel burned out at work. Female teachers are disproportionately represented as experiencing constant workplace burnout at 55 percent.

McKinsey & Company research compared the top reasons educators reported wanting to leave their current role or the profession altogether against those looking to stay in their roles.

The top factors driving teachers to leave include:

  1. Compensation
  2. Expectations
  3. Well-being
  4. Leadership
  5. Workplace Flexibility

Research also shows that “the quality of a teacher’s work environment plays a major role in determining teacher retention, satisfaction, and effectiveness.” Teachers who do not feel supported in their work are not only more likely to leave the profession, but to isolate from their school community.

How Can You Improve District & Educator Outcomes Through a Positive People Experience?

McKinsey & Company found that the top factors that would drive educators to stay in their current roles are meaningful work, colleagues, compensation, and community.

So, how can districts retain their workforce – especially those who cite compensation, unreasonable expectations, and an inability to protect their well-being as top motivators to vacate their role? Even with limited budgets and resources, there are ways districts can support their people and improve educator outcomes through positive people and benefit experiences.

1. Make it easier to understand and access the mental health resources you already offer.

Data shows that employer-sponsored mental health support improves teacher resiliency and decreases feelings of workplace stress. However, the National Education Association says that nearly 35 percent of educators report not knowing what mental health resources are available to them or how to access them.

This is not an issue exclusive to education. Benefit education gaps persist across the private sector as well. Only 49 percent of employees say they can accurately recall their benefit elections, making it critical that all employers make it as easy as possible to understand, access, and engage with the benefits available to them.

Executing a strong, year-round benefits communication plan will draw attention to the programs you already offer, driving improved adoption, ease of access, and improved well-being.  

2. Build a strong community.

Districts that build strong communities across teachers, administrators, students, and parents will go far in being able to retain their educators and drive positive outcomes for their workforce. Among those educators who say their school community has influenced them to stay in their role, 87 percent attribute their longevity to colleagues who show genuine concern and support for one another.

Experts also encourage districts to increase teacher connection points not only with students, parents, and each other, but also with leadership. Studies point to the positive impact on satisfaction and sense of purpose when leaders connect with their teachers and students through coaching, feedback, and mentorship programs. Experts also recommend removing administrative burdens often placed on teachers wherever possible.

3. Leverage technology and individualized health data to drive centralized and personalized benefit experiences.

Educators are susceptible to the same communication overload as any other American worker, but they spend the vast majority of their contracted workday in front of a classroom, not in front of a screen engaging with email or other types of online communication.  

Additionally, K-12 educators have decentralized communication channels – especially as it relates to email communication. Separate email addresses often exist for district or city communications and touchpoints with parents, closed communications with students, and personal email addresses for union communications make it even harder to keep track of important messages. This is in addition to other decentralized, online communication channels for things like school closures due to weather. This can lead to communication fatigue, and can cause educators to ignore channels not dedicated exclusively to their work output.

Personalized benefit communications from one centralized access point increases benefits communication engagement, which has a positive correlation to improved benefits adoption and engagement.

Additionally, leveraging technology that uses individualized health data can support the delivery of messages that are personalized for that individual. This makes it possible to send tailored communications, whether tied to diabetes management or pre-natal care, helping your people to better navigate their individual healthcare journey in ways that lead to improved employer and employee outcomes through increased health and wellness.

4. Make it easier for educators to understand the value of their benefits as part of their total compensation.

While many teachers cite compensation as a reason they have left or are considering leaving education, for many, this refers to salary alone. As the cost of living rises and financial uncertainty looms, it is clear why teachers are focused on take-home pay as a standalone metric of compensation.  

Experts encourage districts to emphasize the value of the total compensation offered to K-12 educators. While pensions and other long-term retirement plans are a strong incentive for many teachers to remain in their roles, for younger generations it can be hard to prioritize long-term financial health against the need to care for themselves and their families today.

This makes it critical for districts to communicate the value of their total benefits offering. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the value of a teacher’s benefits program is on average equal to 45 percent of their annual wages. That compares to just 19 percent in the private sector. As healthcare spending continues to climb (even more quickly than the rate of inflation) the monetary value and impact of a rich healthcare program can quickly outpace a wage bump gained by leaving their current role.

Providing total compensation statements can help provide greater visibility into your employer value proposition. Additionally, providing year-round insight into the performance of their health plan, incurred savings, and even access to preventative care and resources also makes it easier for your people to understand the full impact of their benefits coverage.

Let’s appreciate our teachers beyond Teacher Appreciation Week.

The negative impacts of workplace stress on mental and physical health are widely documented, and perhaps nowhere more clearly than when it comes to our educators. Supporting our teachers through benefits and positive people experiences will go far to better support the well-being of this critical workforce.

A Behind the Scenes Look at Empyrean’s Annual Conference

A Behind the Scenes Look at Empyrean’s Annual Conference

Last week, Empyrean welcomed over 150 attendees to EVOLVE23, its annual invitation-only conference. This year’s event was held at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Savannah along the city’s famed waterfront.

The theme for EVOLVE23 was “Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives”, which aligns with the organization’s corporate mission. Educational programming presented throughout the conference was centered around the critical connections between people experience, benefits, and positive HR and organizational outcomes.

The clients, prospects, partners, and sponsors in attendance were also provided with insights from Empyrean CEO Rich Wolfe about the future of Empyrean, and how the organization’s recent acquisition of Enspire has played a part in Empyrean’s go-forward vision. Wolfe also shared his own passion for connecting benefits and enriching lives, and why engaging, personalized benefits and people experiences are critical to overall organizational success.

Educational Programming

The event featured many dynamic, industry experts presenting on topics designed to provide strategies and techniques needed to effectively leverage benefits to improve and ensure employee trust, psychological safety, and physical wellness – all of which lead to happy, energized teams and successful organizations.

EVOLVE’s conference content also delivered key insights into finding HR, benefits, and organizational success while addressing the needs of their populations with economic efficiency.

The educational content covered at EVOLVE23 was delivered by both individual speakers and through expert panels featuring Empyrean’s clients, internal subject matter experts, and partners.

Featured speakers at EVOLVE23 included:

For a full list of conference educational programming and session descriptions, please click here.

EVOLVE23 in Review

In addition to a jam-packed slate of educational programming, EVOLVE23 also offered many opportunities for networking and fun, including a client reception at the Georgia State Railroad Museum and time spent along Savannah’s famed riverfront.

More information about EVOLVE24 will be released Summer 2023.

Learn more about how Empyrean can help you connect benefits and enrich lives at your own organization.

About Empyrean
We believe that everybody deserves a workplace culture that supports their total well-being through benefits. Since 2006, Empyrean has provided hundreds of employers of varying size, industry, and benefit plan complexity with the innovative technology and best-in-class service necessary to accelerate their benefits strategies and bring their benefits programs to life. Empyrean’s platform and services are designed to create connected employee benefit experiences that enrich lives, strengthen employer brands, and improve workplace cultures for over 5 million people. With our +YOU solution, clients can deliver a holistic employee experience to help HR and benefit leaders simplify the work technology stack for all of the HR initiatives designed to improve employee productivity, well-being, and retention. Visit us at goempyrean.com.

Empyrean Releases Full Agenda for EVOLVE\23

Empyrean Releases Full Agenda for EVOLVE\23

Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives

Empyrean has released its full conference agenda and speaker lineup for EVOLVE\23, which will feature some of the industry’s top thought leaders and HR and benefits experts.

DATE: April 12-14, 2023

LOCATION: The Hyatt Regency Savannah

The theme for this year’s event is “Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives”, which is also Empyrean’s corporate mission. Thought leadership content covered during the conference will explore the connection between people experience, benefits, and positive HR and organizational outcomes.

The event will feature two dynamic, high-energy keynotes as well as several expert panels. These sessions are designed to provide the strategies and tools needed to effectively lead the charge in using benefits to improve and ensure employee trust, psychological safety, and physical wellness – all of which lead to happy, energized teams and successful organizations.

Conference speakers will also provide actionable insights and strategies that will empower attendees to create personalized, connected, life-enriching benefits experiences that address the needs of the individual while also addressing populations with economic efficiency.

Platinum event sponsors Securian and LifeLock will also share critical information about how to improve people experience through benefits.

Conference Keynotes: EVOLVE\23


Opening Keynote: From Populations to People – Creating Remarkable Experiences One Individual at a Time 

Joey Coleman
Customer & Employee Engagement Expert

The opening keynote will be delivered by Joey Coleman, an employee engagement and customer experience expert who has worked with organizations like Whirlpool, NASA, Volkswagen Australia, and Zappos to design and implement their internal and external brand experiences.

Content covered will include:  

  • Why your employees are your most important customers.
  • How to improve employee experiences to reduce churn and increase engagement. 
  • Delivering personalized interactions at scale.
  • The three elements of long-term employee engagement.  
  • Becoming a more strategic organizational contributor by focusing on people experience and engagement.

Closing Keynote: The Power of a People-First Approach: Aligning HR, Benefit, and Organizational Success 

Mark Stelzner
Founder / Managing Principal at IA HR

While the insights shared at EVOLVE\23 will help attendees better leverage benefit programs for organizational success, it is critical for benefit and HR leaders to understand how to communicate this value up to the C-Suite.

As the role of strategic HR and benefits leaders continues to evolve, so do the demands on those in these positions. HR and benefit leaders are not only responsible for ensuring that their people understand how to choose and use their benefits, but that they also recognize the importance of these programs and how they support every individual’s total health and wellbeing – at work and in life.

This session will examine how HR leaders can survive and thrive during times of unprecedented change, all while continuing to provide essential physical, mental, and emotional support for their people. It will also dive into the many ways that this support advances every aspect of their organizational success, leveraging outcomes that speak to leadership and the C-Suite. 

Expert Panels


Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Through Financial Wellness Strategies 

Across the US, people are feeling financially insecure. Whether they’re having difficulty saving, paying off debt, planning for future expenses, or simply managing the cost of everyday life – financial wellness plays a huge role in the mental, emotional, and even physical well-being of today’s workforce.  

A recent survey conducted by PwC found that 56% of employees are stressed about their finances, 49% of which said that money concerns have had a major impact on their mental health in the past year. Financial instability causes widespread uncertainty, and financially strained employees are twice as likely to look for employment elsewhere.

As organizations look to provide resources, programs, and aid for their employees, it is critical to recognize that traditional financial wellness programs are not always inclusive, and may not properly support employees across different backgrounds, incomes, and geographies.  

This session will cover:  

  • An exploration of the growing scope of financial wellness programs, including student loan, home buyer, and caregiver assistance.  
  • Programs and educational resources valuable to employees throughout varying life stages.  
  • How to better support under-represented populations.  
  • Empowering low-wage workers with tools that meet them where they are. 
  • Tax-advantaged accounts and programs.   
  • Promoting financial wellness programs to help candidates and employees understand how to leverage them to their benefit.  

Lifestyles + Life Stages: Optimizing Benefits Value by Meeting Your People Where They Are  

Each member of any given workforce approaches their health, wellness, and financial planning goals differently, depending on what matters to them at that moment. Throughout any employee population, there are also different styles and preferences tied to communication, especially for those working outside of a traditional office environment.  

This session will take a deep dive into how HR and benefit teams can help their team members see the value of their benefits at their unique life stage – whether they are just entering the workforce, expanding their family, or approaching retirement – through targeted, meaningful employee communication and education.  

This session will cover: 

  • Strategies to better understand employee populations, including what they value, how they prefer to communicate, and how and when they absorb information.  
  • Why benefits personalization matters, and the science behind engagement with individualized messages and prompts.  
  • How to position benefits by life stage, including how a particular benefit could have different advantages depending on the age of the participant.  
  • Strategies to promote benefits to ensure everyone at every life stage understands how to enroll in and use the best benefits available to them.  
  • Communication preferences across the generations and how to flex to each style. 
  • How to improve benefits education and fluency across your populations.  
  • Reaching “deskless” and frontline workers in non-traditional office environments.  
  • How benefits personalization can support a DEIB strategy.   

Creating Connected People & Benefit Experiences Across a Dispersed Workforce: A Client Case Study with NexTier  

Learn how NexTier Oilfield Solutions was able to significantly improve their people engagement and retention rates across their dispersed, deskless workforce by using personalized benefits and communication experiences.

The Future is Now: How Empyrean’s Vision Aligns with the Future of Benefits  

During this session, Empyrean’s Chief Strategy Officer, Jim Priebe, and Chief Information & Technology Officer, Kelly Clark, will share Empyrean’s go forward vision as we advance our mission to connect benefits and enrich lives.

Throughout the discussion, Jim and Kelly will talk through the various macro and micro factors influencing the space, including areas where Empyrean will make a concentrated investment in using our technology, security, infrastructure, and services to solve for the evolving challenges impacting Empyrean’s clients.

*Wagmo Pet Insurance is also a Bronze sponsor of EVOLVE\23.

Please contact our events team for more information about this invitation-only conference.

Empyrean Acquires Employee Communications and Engagement Platform and Launches +YOU, a Holistic Solution That Improves Employee Productivity, Wellbeing, and Retention

Empyrean Acquires Employee Communications and Engagement Platform and Launches +YOU, a Holistic Solution That Improves Employee Productivity, Wellbeing, and Retention

Houston, TX. [Feb. 20, 2023] Empyrean, (www.goempyrean.com), a company committed to building better corporate cultures through benefits, today announced the acquisition of employee communication and engagement platform Enspire.

Through the acquisition, Empyrean adds an expanded people-centric dimension to its innovative benefits administration technology and compassionate support services. Called +YOU, the new solution integrates Enspire’s employee communication and engagement technology with Empyrean’s benefits administration platform to become a fully customizable and employer-branded people experience — a single front door to an employer’s suite of tools for employee productivity, wellness, communications, and benefits.

“The combined value of Empyrean and Enspire sets a new standard for the way organizations support and communicate benefits and other HR initiatives with their people,” said Rich Wolfe, CEO of Empyrean. “Our new +YOU solution advances our ability to create a better people experience throughout the entire employee lifecycle. Clients can put their brand and culture centerstage while eliminating the need for employees to search across disconnected carrier and wellness apps or the company intranet to find the resources they need. We bring it all together, all in one place.”

As part of Empyrean, Enspire will continue offering a stand-alone communication and engagement platform for employers.

“Enspire solves employee needs by integrating all employee communication and resources enterprise-wide into one custom-branded employee app,” said Amanda Wiles, Enspire CEO and Founder. “Improving employee experiences and productivity results in a positive company culture and impressive employee retention.”

Today, Empyrean clients leverage the company’s well-established and proprietary AI-enabled benefits technology. This technology provides employees with personalized benefits recommendations and guidance based on the individual’s own health data while offering visibility into likely future healthcare needs and associated costs. With Enspire’s technology, employers can offer their people a single connection point for all of their HR initiatives and take advantage of a simplified, self-service digital hub to easily deliver personalized employee notifications or targeted campaigns. The integration of technology from both companies will ultimately create more opportunities to connect people to the benefits they need, right when they need them, through a mobile application that they will want to use every day.

With Empyrean’s new +YOU solution, employers will also have access to advanced data analytics that track employee engagement, retention, satisfaction, and benefits utilization. Enspire’s approach to employee communications has helped companies reduce turnover by as much as 50%.

“We have been a customer of both Enspire and Empyrean, separately, for many years, and have seen a tremendous increase in benefits adoption and engagement from our highly dispersed workforce,” said Felicia May, Benefits Director at NexTier Oilfield Solutions. “We attribute that change to the power of having a single company app, empowered by Empyrean’s benefits administration capabilities. I can’t wait to see what’s to come now that these two innovative companies have joined forces.”

Benefits consultants and advisors deploying Empyrean’s new +YOU solution for their clients will see increased levels of benefits engagement, adoption, and utilization. Clients already using Empyrean’s benefits technology report two times the adoption rate of voluntary benefits offered. With the new capabilities, Empyrean expects that level of user engagement to escalate even further, making it an unrivaled strategic partner to HR organizations and companies looking to engage and retain employees.

Learn more about +YOU from Empyrean.

About Empyrean
We believe that everybody deserves a workplace culture that supports their total well-being through benefits. Since 2006, Empyrean has provided hundreds of employers of varying size, industry, and benefit plan complexity with the innovative technology and best-in-class service necessary to accelerate their benefits strategies and bring their benefits programs to life. Empyrean’s platform and services are designed to create connected employee benefit experiences that enrich lives, strengthen employer brands, and improve workplace cultures for over 5 million people. With our +YOU solution, clients can deliver a holistic employee experience to help HR and benefit leaders simplify the work technology stack for all of the HR initiatives designed to improve employee productivity, well-being, and retention. Visit us at goempyrean.com.

About Enspire
Enspire is a private employee communication and engagement platform that integrates all employee communication into one app custom built to reconnect your employee experiences with your brand. Enspire provides a digital communication platform, team of digital strategy experts, and an analytics engine for engagement intelligence proven to advance employee engagement, productivity, and retention. Visit us at enspire.com.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Tony Spangler
817-798-3371
tony@thestarrconspiracy.com

Why Your People Experience Matters More Today than Ever Before

Why Your People Experience Matters More Today than Ever Before

A Connected and Personalized People Experience Can Help You Overcome 2023’s Top Employer Challenges 

The past few years have presented challenge after challenge for employers, making it harder than ever for HR teams to support their people and reach their goals. Workforces are more dispersed than ever, turnover is high, engagement is low, and it continues to be a candidate’s job market.   

But regardless of these challenges, organizations committed to creating connected, personalized people experiences have been able to strengthen their employer brand, and with it, raise their levels of engagement, retention, and the overall well-being of their people.

What is a People Experience?

Organizations are made up of people; individuals working towards a common goal but each with their own unique perspectives, backgrounds, experiences, and motivators.  

The way your teams experience and connect to your company culture and benefit programs influence everything from engagement to retention to performance – each of which has a tremendous impact on HR and organizational success.    

A strong, strategically executed people experience and benefits strategy should be leveraged by HR and benefits leaders to advance all people-related goals. The key to leveraging benefits success to advance your broader HR goals is delivering these life-enriching benefits through a personalized, connected people experience.  

Today’s Top Employer Challenges  

Here are some of the top challenges employers are facing today that can be improved by offering a strong people and benefits experience.  

Talent Attraction

Even through today’s economic uncertainties and highly publicized layoffs, the January 2023 jobs report showed that the unemployment rate continues to hover around 3.4 percent.  

Even before they apply for a position, your potential new hires begin to engage with your employer brand. A strong candidate experience drives your ability to attract talent, and your Talent Acquisition teams need reliable tools to leverage your company culture and benefits programs to compete in today’s competitive market.  

Engagement & Retention

A recent study conducted by Monster.com found that a staggering 96 percent of U.S. workers will be looking for a new job in 2023. Forty percent of those surveyed say they need to find a higher-paying position due to inflation and rising costs of living.  

Employees often overlook the value of their total rewards package and other workplace benefits like a strong culture, flexible work arrangements, and opportunities for professional development and advancement.  

To engage and retain talent, it is critical that you deliver positive, personalized experiences that make each person within your organization feel valued and supported as the individuals they are – or your talent will look elsewhere without hesitation.  

It can be hard for people to recognize the value you bring as their employer. A rich benefits program has been traditionally a disconnected one, experienced through different carrier apps, your intranet, and even corporate email.  

A connected and centralized people experience brings together all that you offer as an employer – better demonstrating to your teams just how you’re supporting them in both work and in life in a way that is tailored to their unique situation, lifestyle, and life stage.  

Increased Benefit Expectations 

Today’s consumers have nearly unlimited choices when it comes to purchasing items they need and want.  

Benefits and healthcare are no different, putting employers and the entire health system under more pressure than ever to transform the consumer experience and provide transparent, easy-to-navigate health and wellness experiences.  

A positive benefits experience not only drives well-being for your people, but also demonstrates the value of the benefits you offer as their employer. Connecting benefits into one experience empowers your team to choose and use the best benefits for them while optimizing their value.  

Benefit Education Gaps   

Even as people demand more from their benefits programs, benefits education gaps persist. According to a recent Aflac study, nearly 3 in 5 employees spend less than 30 minutes researching their benefits, with 24% of those surveyed reporting spending less than five minutes.  

Your employees need year-round guidance on choosing and using the best benefits available for their unique situations and circumstances. Creating personalized messages and experiences guides your people towards better benefit enrollment, adoption, and utilization decisions, improving the wellbeing of both your people and their loved ones.  

Centralizing benefit experiences and communication points also increases levels of benefit engagement while offering more opportunities to educate your people about how to find and use the best resources available to them in ways that improve overall benefits and workplace satisfaction.  

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging 

The positive influence of diverse and inclusive workplaces on organizational success has been well documented. Diverse and inclusive workplaces are tied to:  

  • Higher revenue growth 
  • Greater readiness to innovate  
  • Increased ability to recruit a diverse talent pool  
  • 5.4 times higher rates of employee retention  

No matter how rich your benefits program is, you may be delivering it in an inequitable, non-inclusive way. Your people need to understand how the benefits you offer specifically support them today in their current situation while setting them up for success tomorrow.  

Unless benefits are delivered in a way that feels personalized for each member of your population at any life stage or circumstance, no one will feel like they belong.  

Dispersed Workforces 

Whether you have an in-office, hybrid, or remote-first workplace, or if you have a high population of front-line and deskless workers, today’s workforce is more geographically dispersed than ever before.  

Employers that are strategic and thoughtful about how to engage workforces scattered across different locations by creating one centralized, accessible communication channel will find the most success in connecting their people to their culture.  

Lack of Financial Security Impacting Employees  

U.S. workplaces lose an estimated $500 billion dollars each year due to lost productivity tied to personal financial stressors plaguing their employees.  

Due to the rising cost of consumer goods, more than a third of all American workers report that they made a difficult healthcare decision in the past year, including having to choose between paying for a prescription or medical treatment and other household bills.  

More than 84 percent of employers report increased retention as a result of their financial wellness benefit offerings. As your people navigate rising expenses and other financial insecurity, they are relying on you to help them make informed and educated financial wellness decisions that are right for them today and in the future. Employees value this type of support and guidance, and a connected people experience can help them optimize the financial wellness programs you offer.  

Are you ready to change the way you think about your people experience?

If you’re ready to change the way you think about your people experience, we can help.  

+YOU is a single entry point that connects your people to your company culture and all the benefits and resources you’ve invested in to support them – from one centralized place.  

Learn how NexTier leveraged +YOU to connect its dispersed, deskless workforce amidst 41% headcount growth.

New Research from Empyrean & NelsonHall: The Evolving Role of Today’s Strategic Benefits Leader

New Research from Empyrean & NelsonHall: The Evolving Role of Today’s Strategic Benefits Leader

Organizations are facing unprecedented challenges impacting their workplaces, from managing through the COVID-19 pandemic, to attracting and retaining talent during the Great Resignation and labor shortages, to ensuring employee engagement as reports of “quiet quitting” trends continue to climb.

These challenges have driven a concentrated shift away from viewing the benefits administration function as a tactical necessity disconnected from organizational goals and better recognizing benefit teams as strategic contributors greatly influencing company culture, employee experience, and positive organizational outcomes. 

Empyrean and HR analyst firm NelsonHall partnered to conduct a proprietary research study of more than 100 HR and benefits leaders to better understand this shift. The results of this research identify ways today’s benefits leaders can improve their own individual effectiveness as well as the impact of their entire benefits function.

The findings shared in our comprehensive report outline:

  • Attitude and expectation alignment between HR and benefit leaders
  • Critical HR-related issues identified for the coming 1-2 years
  • Connections between organizational outcomes and the execution of benefits strategies that drive improved employee experiences
  • Key tools and skills required by benefit leaders to execute their go-forward benefit strategy

Download the full report here.

Benefits Maturity Model & Assessment

NelsonHall used the results of the study to develop a Benefits Maturity Model used to measure the sophistication and impact of a benefit function against key indicators identified through our research.

Take our online Benefits Maturity Assessment to see your score on our custom Benefits Maturity Radar and to receive a personalized report highlighting your areas of both strength and opportunity as it relates to your organization’s benefits function.

Online Benefits Maturity Assessment

Online Benefits Maturity Assessment

Get the personalized insights you need to become a more strategic benefits leader with our online, interactive Benefits Maturity Assessment. 

Empyrean Announces EVOLVE\23 – April 12 – 14 in Savannah, GA

Empyrean Announces EVOLVE\23 – April 12 – 14 in Savannah, GA

Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives

Empyrean is excited to announce that EVOLVE\23 will be held from April 12-14 at Savannah’s Hyatt Regency along the city’s historical riverfront.

The theme for our upcoming EVOLVE conference is “Connecting Benefits, Enriching Lives”, a topic closely aligned with our mission to deliver optimized and connected benefit experiences to the over 4.6 million people who rely on the Empyrean platform every day.

Conference programming will be developed and presented by HR and benefits industry experts, with content anchored around the realities that employee populations are made up of real people, each with a unique background and personal story. These stories determine what employees need from their benefits program to thrive both inside and outside of work.

Our dynamic sessions will provide participants with the strategies and insights they need to tackle the ongoing challenges tied to supporting individual benefit needs while also addressing populations with economic efficiency.

EVOLVE\23 will also explore how to ensure employees understand how to choose and use their benefits, including how to create personalized, connected, life-enriching benefit experiences that result in high levels of employee trust, psychological safety, and physical wellness, all leading to happy, energized employees and successful organizations. 

DATE: April 12-14, 2023
LOCATION:
Hyatt Regency – Savannah, GA

Event registration will open in Fall 2022, and additional conference details will be shared at that time. For now, we invite our clients to mark your calendars for this engaging event!

Why Having a Rich Benefits Program Isn’t Enough to Attract & Retain Today’s Talent

Why Having a Rich Benefits Program Isn’t Enough to Attract & Retain Today’s Talent

CHROs, benefits leaders, and members of the C-suite continue to recognize the strong influence their employee benefits program has over their ability to attract and retain their top talent.

Unfortunately, a rich, well-designed benefits program is not enough to drive the strong employer brands and workplace cultures that make an organization an employer of choice – organizations also need a strong benefits communication and engagement strategy that helps their people better choose and use the best benefits available to them, at the individual level.

Benefits are the Second Leading Driver Pushing Your Employees to Seek New Employment

While voluntary quits have eased slightly at 3.9 million voluntary resignations in early 2023, employers report that 40% of workers consider leaving a job for better benefits, according to a recent Forbes Advisory survey.

Data collected in a PwC study also supports this trend, demonstrating that employees looking for new roles cited better benefits as the second leading driver for seeking a new position, ahead of desires for increased flexibility or career advancements. Fifty-seven percent of employees say they are at least somewhat likely to accept a position with slightly lower pay in exchange for a more robust benefits package.

Unfortunately, the ability to attract and retain workers depends on an organization’s ability to communicate the value of its benefits offering in relation to the needs of each individual, creating personalized benefit experiences that align with their current healthcare needs, financial wellness, life stage, lifestyle, or circumstance.

Positive Benefit Experiences Drive Strong Workplace Cultures & Employer Brands

Employers who neglect to take the necessary steps to inform both future and existing employees about their benefits demonstrate both a lack of employee support and an uncaring company culture, no matter how generous their employee benefit plan design may
be.

This is absolutely detrimental to an organization’s people experience, as data shows that employees of all generations present in today’s workforce rank “organizations that care about employee well-being” as a top three criteria when evaluating and selecting an employer.

“Without a big picture understanding, employees will be unable to truly understand the value of your benefits offering. This understanding is especially critical as employees continue to make employment decisions based on the benefits program they believe they are getting,” says Angel Seufert, Executive Vice President, Human Resources at Empyrean.

The ongoing volume of voluntary quits has made it clear that employers who do not meet the evolving demands of employees can expect to see high levels of turnover, making it critical that employers take the time to inform both future and existing employees about the value of their benefits offering.

HR Teams Must Work Together to Attract and Retain Talent 

Seufert also says that talent acquisition teams, HR, and benefits leaders must work together to create cohesive and thoughtful communication campaigns that positively demonstrate the value of your benefits program throughout the candidate and employee lifecycle.

“Gone are the days when benefits and HR teams could work in a silo,” Seufert adds. “HR and benefits leaders need to work together to listen and understand exactly what your unique employee populations are looking for, whether that be through exit surveys, engagement and stay surveys, or through a benefit utilization analysis.”

HR teams will need to create a positive journey throughout the employee lifecycle, starting with candidate experience and communications. And to combat attrition, HR teams will need to align to ensure they understand what their employees’ benefits needs truly are.

“Employers need to hone in on which benefits will both retain current talent as well as attract new desirable talent,” says Empyrean Strategic Account Advisor, Scott Mesteller.

Even when the job market eventually shifts to favor employers, it can be expected that top talent will continue to prioritize employment with organizations that demonstrate they value employees through commitments to positive employee experiences and total well-being. One of the most tangible ways for employers to express their commitment, values, and dedication to positive workplace cultures will continue to be through employee benefits.

Check out more Empyrean Insights to learn how to drive positive people and benefit experiences at your organization.

Empyrean Releases Full Agenda & Speaker Details for EVOLVE/22

Empyrean Releases Full Agenda & Speaker Details for EVOLVE/22

Empyrean is excited to welcome some of the industry’s top thought leaders and benefits experts to EVOLVE/22!

DATE: April 6-8, 2022
LOCATION: The Hutton Hotel, Nashville

Building Culture Through Benefits

The theme for this invitation-only event is “Building Culture Through Benefits”, and from our high-energy opening keynote all the way through our closing session, our dynamic speakers will explore the strong connections between employee benefits, company culture, and positive organizational outcomes gained from employee health and wellness.

Our conference agenda is designed to challenge participants to think differently about benefits and their own role in sparking change within their workplaces.

Conference Agenda & Speaker Information

April 7, 2022

Opening Keynote: Culture That Rocks! How to Amp Up & Rev Up Company Culture

Presented by:

Jim Knight
Owner & Founder
Knight Speaker

  • Strategies for defining company culture, including understanding the differences between your organization’s “heritage” and your current workplace environment.
  • Why your benefits strategy is the foundation for a strong company culture.
  • Approaches to “amp up” employee communications to drive improved outcomes.
  • Methods for managing through organizational change.
  • Tactics for creating employee brand ambassadors.
  • Techniques for building resilient teams.  

Regardless of your company’s cultural history or status, this program will provide you with the insights and tools necessary to build positive workplace cultures within your own organization.

Diversity & Equity in Benefits

Presented by:

Dede Orraca-Cecil
US Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Egon Zehnder

Antoine Carter
Sr. Director, Client Services
Empyrean

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been long recognized as critical to any healthy workplace culture, but have these pillars made their way into your benefits strategy?

While your benefits program may be designed to support your different employee populations, your team members may not understand how certain programs or benefits are advantageous for someone in their unique situation or circumstance.

This session will explore the importance of diversity and equity in benefits, including:

  • Positive correlations between diversity and favorable organizational outcomes.
  • Impacts of equity and inclusion on employee and organizational performance.
  • Employing a benefits strategy that is inclusive and supportive of employees of all backgrounds.
  • Employee communication approaches that meet employees where they are and fuel a stronger understanding of how each benefit offering in your program can support their own unique needs and that of their family.
  • How to use the Empyrean platform to fuel your DEI benefits strategy.

You will leave this session with the insights, strategies and techniques needed to improve benefit inclusivity across all employee populations, creating a more equitable workplace.

Fueling Improved Employee Experiences Through Decision Support Technology: A Pilot+ Case Study

Presented by:

Tammy Kaplan
Product Manager, Employer Strategy Enablement
Empyrean

Desta Millner
Strategic Account Advisor
Empyrean

This micro-session will explore how Pilot+, Empyrean’s claims-based decision support and personalized healthcare navigation tool, has driven positive employee experiences.

This quick-moving discussion will provide real-world insights and direction on how to:

  • Leverage decision support technology to fuel a better employee experience.
  • Utilize predictive analytics to help employees understand future health risks and corresponding costs.
  • Influence improved enrollment and utilization decisions using claims-based data.

You will be left with the actionable data and insights necessary to improve the experiences and health and wellness outcomes of your own employees and organization.

Creating a Culture of Benefits: Supporting & Engaging the Whole Employee

Moderated by:

Elizabeth Rennie
HR Technology & Services Research Director
NelsonHall

Panelists:

Michelle Latham
Senior Director, Benefits
Dollar General

Shaun Snyder
Sr. Director of Benefits, Wellbeing & Shared Services
The Aaron’s Company, Inc.

Scott Kline
Director, US Benefits
Sanofi US

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting changes to our everyday lives have created physical, mental, and financial challenges that American workers had never faced before, causing employers to pivot towards benefit strategies that support total employee health and wellness.

Empyrean’s recent study of 2022 benefit enrollment trends shows that this shift is expected to continue, driven in part by employee demand and increased enrollment in supplemental benefits.

Join our expert client panel with representatives from Dollar General, The Aaron’s Company, and Sanofi US as they discuss why benefits that support total employee heath, wealth, and wellness are a critical part of any employer’s ongoing employee benefits strategy, including:

  • What total employee wellness means at their organization.
  • Connections between health, wealth, and company success.
  • How their support of the total employee has impacted employee attraction, retention, and diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Shifting employee expectations and demands related to benefit offerings.
  • Why total employee wellness drives positive employee experiences and positive workplace cultures.

Participants will learn the strategies and approaches needed to build and execute a benefits strategy that supports the whole employee, including how to drive their employees towards offerings that support them in their life at work and outside the office.

Emerging Risk & New Compliance Standards

Moderated by:

Colleen Waymel
Chief Operating Officer
Empyrean

Panelists:

Chris Condeluci
Principal
CC Law & Policy

Rocco Muratore
Director, Strategic Partnerships
Equifax
Event Gold Sponsor

The past several years have been filled with new regulatory compliance standards at the local, state, and federal level, as well as emerging areas of consumer risk in our increasingly digitized world.

This session will feature our panel of compliance experts as they explore emerging legislation impacting the benefits space as well as new areas of risk to the consumer which employers can hedge against through voluntary benefit offerings.

The Hidden Paycheck: Using Benefits to Attract & Retain Employees

Moderated by:

Angel Seufert
Executive Vice President, Human Resources
Empyrean

Panelists:

Bob Murray
Executive Leader, Benefits and Wellness Strategy
Whole Foods Market

Jeff Streeper
HR COE Director, Benefits and HR Service Center
Securian
Platinum Event Sponsor

Whether you call it The Great Resignation or The Big Quit, employees continue to leave their jobs at the highest rates ever recorded. These employees are seeking greener pastures, whether it be the ability to work from home, improved flexibility and a better work environment, increased pay, or better benefits, employers have been left struggling to backfill positions while also recruiting to fill newly created roles.

Benefits are often viewed as “The Hidden Paycheck”, since many employers fail to demonstrate the true value of their benefits offering to both candidates and existing employees. This is a major miss when it comes to employer branding and employee experience opportunities.

Employers who neglect to properly educate future and current employees about their benefits offering leave it up to the individual to acclimate themselves, demonstrating both a lack of employee support and an uncaring company culture, no matter how generous an employee benefits plan may actually be.

This session will explore:

  • How to improve your benefits strategy to focus on the programs your employees care about most.
  • Strategies to fuel improved employee attraction and retention through enhanced candidate and employee communications.
  • Approaches for benefits leaders to be a stronger partner for talent acquisition and HR teams to improve attraction and retention outcomes.

This session will provide strategies and techniques needed to better leverage your benefits offering to attract and retain the talent your organization needs to be successful.

April 8, 2022

The Future is Now: Our Forward-Looking Product & Partner Vision

Presented by:

Jim Priebe
Chief Strategy Officer
Empyrean

Kelly L. Clark
Chief Information & Technology Officer
Empyrean

During this session, Empyrean’s Chief Strategy Officer, Jim Priebe, and Chief Information & Technology Officer, Kelly Clark, will provide our audience with an overview of Empyrean’s go-forward brand vision.

Throughout the discussion, Jim and Kelly will talk through the various macro and micro factors influencing the space, including areas where Empyrean will make a concentrated investment in using our technology and services to solve for the evolving challenges impacting our clients. 

Removing the HDHP Stigma Through Year-Round HSA Engagement

Moderated by:

Desta Millner
Strategic Account Advisor
Empyrean

Panelists:

Scott MacDonald
SVP, Regional Sales Manager
HSA Bank
Event Gold Sponsor 

Crystal Thomas
Benefits Manager
Hearst Media

High deductible health plans (HDHPs) often have a bad rep, with many employees failing to see their value – and consequently fueling a narrative that organizations that offer them are looking for cost savings at the expense of their employees.

Benefits leaders know that HDHPs are a strategic choice that not only save employees money through lower premium payments, but also offer the opportunity for employees to divert pre-tax earnings into a health savings account (HSA) that builds financial health.

This session will explore ways to remove the stigma of your HDHPs and change the negative narrative. Content covered will include:

  • Approaches for creating a communication strategy that educates employees on the benefits of HSAs as a financial wellness tool.
  • Methods for improving employee HSA contributions and utilization.
  • Strategies for demonstrating the savings offered through HDHPs especially when complemented by HSAs, including the costs of being over-insured.

You will leave this session with proven strategies to remove the stigma around your own HDHP and demonstrate the true value of your benefits offering.

Closing Keynote: The Changing Role of the Strategic Benefits Leader

Presented by:

Elizabeth Rennie
HR Technology & Services Research Director
NelsonHall

In our closing keynote, we will share the findings of a proprietary research study of more than 100 HR and benefits leaders, co-commissioned by Empyrean and HR analyst firm, NelsonHall.

This qualitative study explores the changing role of benefits leaders and uncovers the insights, tools, and education needed to become a successful member of your broader HR organization while overcoming challenges presented by the ever-changing business landscape.

Content covered will include:

  • The many roles played by today’s benefits team that go beyond the oversimplified label of “benefits administration”.
  • The strategic role benefit teams play within their organization to build successful business outcomes through the deployment of wellness programs and enhanced employee experiences.
  • The evolving demands on the providers of benefits administration platforms, uncovering how these technologies must evolve to support the increasingly strategic role that benefits programs play within HR strategy.

Findings will also uncover how benefits leaders are key contributors to the success of your HR team, overall business, and the employees who make up your organization. You will leave this session with actionable insights to adopt and implement within your own business as you enable a benefits strategy that serves to build positive employee experiences and strong company cultures.

Evening Events & Musical Performances

Beyond our daytime programming, our team has made sure to leave ample time for networking opportunities, evening fun at exciting venues, and performances by some of Music City’s hottest performers!

With musical performances by:

  • High Fidelity
  • George Shingleton
  • Gwen Levy Duo

The sweet sounds of Nashville and our culture-focused educational sessions will inspire our attendees to spark change within their own organization by building culture through benefits.

Please contact info@goempyrean.com for more information about this invitation-only client conference.

Empyrean’s 2022 Benefit Trends Report

Empyrean’s 2022 Benefit Trends Report

As we enter the third year of pandemic-era life, it is clear that the way American workers view their employers, benefit programs, and overall workplaces has changed, creating both a significant and lasting impact on the HR and benefits space.

Our 2022 Benefit Trends Report uncovers the year’s top five trends influencing the state of employee benefits, sharing both quantitative data and expert insights that demonstrate how the many reactionary shifts, once thought to be temporary, in all likelihood may be permanent as the workplace continues to be forever reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some of the key insights and takeaways from our full report.

1. Total Wellbeing is the New Normal

Benefit election data and employee behavior show that today’s employees have come to both expect and demand a broader range of supplemental benefit offerings from their employer, making an increased focus on total employee wellness a significant benefit trend again this year.

Enrollment data collected from the over 4.6 million participants accessing their benefits through the Empyrean platform shows that employees continue to gravitate towards supplemental offerings, selecting benefits that align with the changes they have experienced in their own lives. Some notable shifts include:

  • Shifts away from office-centric benefit enrollments, including a 16.58% decrease in commuter benefit participation
  • Enrollments that reflect remote and hybrid work arrangements
  • 56.37% increase in pet care benefit enrollments

As our report explains in further detail, Empyrean’s experts forecast that employers will continue to trend towards taking a more holistic approach to their benefit offerings due to employee and market pressure to do so.

2. Improved Consumer Education is Driving Adoption, Employee Vulnerability is Accelerating the Trend

Since the introduction of the HDHP, employers have leaned on supplemental benefits as a way to round out traditional programs, and plan sponsors have spent significant resources educating their employees on why enrollment in these supplemental programs can be advantageous.

Data suggests that this education has started to take hold. Whether employees are looking for a better work-life balance, financial planning support, or new ways to cope with stress, the adoption of voluntary benefits is improving.

Some of the enrollment increases discussed in our report include:

  • Hospital Indemnity (9.8% increase)
  • Accident Benefit (6.95% increase)
  • Critical Illness (5.85% increase)

After two years of pandemic life, it may come as no surprise that more employees are enrolling in benefits that insure for catastrophic events, perhaps recognizing their own physical and financial vulnerabilities during the public health crisis.

Download our full report to learn more about both continued and emerging trends related to mental health and employee burnout, and predictions that employees will continue to lean towards benefits that round out their traditional medical benefit programs.

3. Increased Focus on Using Benefits to Attract & Retain Talent

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 47.4 million U.S. employees voluntarily left their jobs in 2021, making the need for improved attraction and retention through benefits an emerging trend in 2022.

The volume of quits this year has made it clear that employers who do not meet the evolving demands of employees can expect to see high levels of turnover. The Great Resignation has had a tremendous impact on health and welfare benefits, increasing the need for employers to rethink their benefits strategy and better demonstrate the value of their benefits program to both future and existing employees.

As described in our report, we predict that as the war for talent continues, HR teams will need to work together to better understand what their employees’ benefits needs actually are, and create a positive journey throughout the employee lifecycle, starting with the candidate experience and communications.

Traditional, supplemental, and non-monetary benefits will play a starring role in an employer’s ability to differentiate themselves against the rest of the market. Delivery of a positive employee experience, from candidacy through termination, will be a key driver in an employer’s ability to attract and retain talent.

4. Increased Need to Deliver & Communicate a Positive Benefits Experience 

While employers are working hard to develop a strong benefits strategy that combats attrition and contributes to positive company cultures, equal effort must be made to ensure employees have positive experiences when enrolling in and utilizing these benefits, as research has shown employees will leave an organization for a role offering a more competitive benefits package.

The problem for many employers, however, is demonstrating that their benefits program is in fact valuable.

In a 2021 Voya consumer survey, one-third of respondents reported that they did not fully understand any of the employee benefits they enrolled in during their most recent open enrollment period. Despite materials and support available during open enrollment and throughout the year, many employees lack a full understanding of their benefit coverage and how to make cost-effective selections that are sized appropriately for their unique needs.

Providing employees with meaningful, year-round benefits education continues to be a major challenge for employers. Only 19 percent of organizations report that they believe their employees have a high-level understanding of their benefit options and elections, and 88 percent of employers from the same study say their main employee communications goal is to help participants better understand and utilize their benefit offerings.

More and more employers are relying on decision support technology to help employees navigate employer-sponsored health and wellness benefit offerings through an individualized lens, enabling better education, selection, and utilization outcomes.

As described in our report, going forward we expect technology to play an even bigger role in the employee benefits experience, with employers leveraging predictive analytics and real-life claims data to drive benefits engagement. These platforms provide enrollment recommendation intelligence tied directly to the claims data of the individual enrollee, creating entirely customized forecasts based on real-life prior events.

Since the enrollment recommendations are tailored specifically for the employee, it is clear that the employer is not trying to drive them towards a lower cost plan that will save company dollars. Instead, the employer is able to demonstrate their commitment to providing the employee with benefit programs that meet the employee where they are in support of their total health and wellness.

5. Continued Developments Surrounding Benefits Regulatory Compliance

Employer-sponsored benefit plans have been historically subject to a significant and ever-changing list of regulatory compliance standards, however, the sheer volume and complexity of legislation governing the employment law space has been a continued trend since the start of the pandemic – and one that can be expected for years to come.

Our report outlines some of the most critical new and shifting regulations employers need to know, including trends that go beyond compliance standards to ensure positive employee experiences.

Looking Forward

It is critical that employers and benefit leaders take a step back from the “survival” modes employed since 2020 to understand the future of benefits and how to shift go-forward benefits strategies for both organizational and employee success.

Benefit leaders can conclude that the majority of benefits-related changes made by organizations in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic are here to stay. Employer-sponsored health and welfare programs have been forever redefined to focus on mental and financial wellness benefits that support the whole employee in all facets of life, both inside and outside of work.

This year, employers have the opportunity to think differently about their benefit strategies to drive healthy and happy workplace cultures. As more businesses recognize the connections between benefits, employee experience, and positive organizational outcomes, leaders will continue to level up their benefits offering to build culture through benefits.

For additional data and insights tied to this year’s benefit trends, download your copy of Empyrean’s 2022 Benefit Trends Report today.

The Critical Role of Supplemental Benefits in a Go-Forward Benefits Strategy

The Critical Role of Supplemental Benefits in a Go-Forward Benefits Strategy

Webinar presented by Dr. Kristin Tugman, VP Health + Productivity, Prudential | Desta Millner, Empyrean | Melanie Haniph, HR Consultant. The COVID-19 pandemic has created physical, mental, and financial challenges that American workers have never faced before, causing employers to quickly shift their benefit strategies to one in support of total employee wellness. A recent study conducted by Empyrean shows that this is a trend that is expected to continue, driven in part by employee demand. Join our expert panel as they discuss why supplemental benefits will be a critical part of any employer’s post-pandemic employee benefits strategy. 

How Decision Support Technology Can Fuel a Better Employee Experience

How Decision Support Technology Can Fuel a Better Employee Experience

Read our Decision Support Guide to learn about the top 5 factors to consider when evaluating recommendation engine platforms. Understand how predictive analytics can help employees understand future risks and costs, and what to look out for when comparing platforms to ensure you get the best fit for your needs.

The Changing Role of the Strategic Benefits Leader

The Changing Role of the Strategic Benefits Leader

Since the start of the pandemic, company benefits have played an increasingly important role in helping organizations protect the safety, wellness, and health of their employees. This is increasingly the case, not only for physical wellness, but organizations now have greater awareness of mental health and financial wellness impacts on their staff given recent challenges and mass resignations.

2022: a perfect storm for benefits

The dominance of remote/hybrid work environments also opens up new opportunities for benefits functions to offer new benefit types that could be seen as tangible expressions of a company’s culture. Therefore, If employee welfare, attraction, and retention are not top of the list of your key strategic priorities for 2022, they should be. Not only are organizations and HR functions adapting to new ways of working and changing business environments, they are also facing the fact that employees have started to “vote with their feet”, demanding a better work-life balance. We are experiencing the largest wave of mass resignations seen in most of our lifetimes. This is also not helped by the retirement of baby boomers and an aging workforce. 2022 is the year to act, and these challenges also offer a great opportunity for benefits teams to relook at the role they can play in strengthening the resilience of companies and their workforce.

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