March 16, 2023

No matter how competitive your benefits package is, if your employees do not know about it, they will not participate.

Employee benefits are an important part of any organization’s compensation package. However, many organizations struggle to increase employee participation in their benefits plan.

This impacts both your business and your people. Low participation rates mean it will cost a company more to offer certain benefits or cut a benefit entirely.

The employee, on the other hand, may feel underpaid. After all, by not participating they are losing part of their total compensation. Some of which (retirement plans, critical illness insurance), could have a negative long-term impact.

So, what is the solution? How can a company improve their employees’ participation in their benefits program. Here are five strategies to implement.

Provide Comprehensive, Clear Information

To participate, employees need to understand their benefits. They will need comprehensive and understandable benefit guide.

The goal is to communicate the entirety of the package to an employee, and they must be able to understand it.

Things a benefit guide should include:

  • overview of the different benefits
  • details on enrolling and utilizing the benefit
  • eligibility criteria.

A study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) revealed that the biggest problem with benefit education materials is that employees do not read them.

You need a benefit guide, but is it going to waste? The next four strategies are all about getting employees to engage with the plan.

Personalize Benefits

Your team is unique. Your benefits package can be as well. Personalize benefits to meet the needs of employees.

Employees with young children may value childcare benefits, while those nearing retirement may prioritize retirement savings plans.

Give employees a voice by surveying them and identifying their preferences and needs. This will create a benefits plan that is more meaningful and valuable to them and give them an ownership stake in the entire process.

Communicate Effectively

Employees do not open or read benefit guides. It is vital to meet them where they are at. There are a variety of communication channels to try:

  • Personalized emails – the IFEBP study revealed emails had an 85.6% success rate.
  • Printed Materials – desk drop or snail mail
  • Intranet or internal social channels
  • In-Person meetings

Communicate regularly and track which channels work best for your employees.

Offer Educational Programs

Participation in a benefits plan is directly tied to how well employees understand the plan. Educational programs step directly into this gap.

These can take the form of seminars, webinars, or online courses. Create or utilize content and programming from partners that help employees make more informed decisions about their benefits and better understand how they work.

Provide Support

Regardless of how effective communication and education is, people will have questions. Provide support to employees who have questions or concerns about their benefits.

Support options could include:

  • a dedicated benefits hotline
  • an HR representative who is available to answer questions
  • a self-service portal with information and resources.

Market Yourself.

Benefits are vital to employee attraction and retention. But no matter how competitive your benefits package is, if your employees do not know about it, they will not participate.

Get creative with these five strategies to market your benefits internally. Engage employees and encourage participation. It will lead to greater ROI on your medical spend and a more satisfied and productive workforce.


Apex works closely with employers to ensure their benefits package meets strategic objectives, is cost effective and improves their competitive position.

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