HRE’s number of the day: benefits confusion

One-third of workers have significant questions about the benefits they selected during open enrollment. Here’s what that means for HR leaders.
By: | February 17, 2021 • 2 min read

35: Percentage of employees who report not fully understanding any of the employee benefits they enrolled in during their most recent open enrollment period

More than one-third of workers don’t understand the benefits they selected during enrollment, according to a new survey from Voya Financial. This rises among younger workers, with more than half (54%) of millennials reporting they don’t understand their benefit selections.

What it means for HR leaders

The data points to a continued challenge facing HR and benefit leaders: a lack of understanding among employees about their benefits. Other surveys have highlighted the fact that workers have a hard time understanding their benefits and often default into choices because of frustration and confusion.

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The data points to an obvious conclusion: that employers must do better when it comes to educating workers about benefits.

Voya’s survey reveals that the majority of working Americans are eager for education, guidance and support from their employers. For instance, 66% of employees indicated they want their employer to help them better understand their employee benefits throughout the year—not just at open enrollment. And that number jumps for younger workers, with 78% of millennials reporting they would like more communication about their workplace benefits throughout 2021. Additionally, 73% of employees are interested in support and guidance tools that help them understand how much money to put aside for retirement, emergency savings and healthcare expenses.

Related: Mayer: 7 benefit trends to watch in 2021

Rob Grubka, president of Voya Employee Benefits, says the good news is that COVID-19 has put benefits in the spotlight, with workers spending more time reviewing their benefits offered by their employer during the fall open enrollment period.

“The challenge now in 2021—especially among younger workers, like millennials—is providing ongoing support and education to help employees understand how to maximize their new benefit selections to address their holistic financial wellness needs,” he says.

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Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.