As an HR professional, you’re asked to be a counselor, a payroll pro, a benefits expert, and so much more. We knew HR was juggling tasks. What we didn’t know was just how much time HR professionals were spending each week fielding employee benefits questions.
According to our recent 2021 State of the Benefits Experience Report, it adds up to an average of nine hours per week. Even worse, some professionals spend 20, 30, or even 40 hours per week fielding these HR questions.
We know this isn’t your only job. In fact, your goals are so much bigger than just helping employees understand basic benefits questions. But if HR is ever going to get to deeper issues – benefits utilization, cost-containment, not to mention employee satisfaction – they must first eliminate these frequently-asked questions from their to-do lists. Here, we’ll detail how HR Pros ranked these top questions and the solutions that can take them off your plate.
Finding support contact information (42%)
Nearly one-half of our survey respondents said this was their employees’ top benefits question. That’s bad news -nothing is more frustrating than needing answers quickly and not knowing where to turn. Employees asking for support information may have further questions but are stumbling at the very first step in understanding their benefits.
This question could be filling up inboxes simply because of layout issues – maybe employees can’t find a support phone number or email on their benefits card. Human Resources pros who are fielding this question frequently could make support contact info more available, or consider changing the design of their benefits cards to highlight that information. A benefits experience platform can also help. Keeping all your support contact information in one place and backing it up with live support is the best way to consistently give employees what they need.
Understanding their benefits (38%)
This response is broad, so it’s hard to say which part of their benefits package is most confusing to employees. For clues, we can look to utilization numbers. The largest group (20%) of our respondents reported 5-10% utilization. This resembles industry averages for third-party providers. Carrier averages tend to be even lower. Are employees neglecting to use their benefits because they can’t find them? Connecting the two makes sense.
Yet we know that understanding and utilization are about so much more than education. No education campaign can completely close the gap between the two. Employees need to understand their benefits, yes, but it’s more important that they know where to seek help. When benefits information is in a single location, such as an app, employees don’t have to know the intricacies of their benefits. They just need to open the app.
Understanding medical bills (10%)
Like network coverage, medical bills are confusing. Employees may want assurance that their bill is accurate or may be confused about how their benefits or network apply to their bills. None of that is within HR’s area of expertise, yet we know they’re spending hours each week fielding questions and offering assistance. That’s inefficient, but it also leaves employees exposed to potential errors.
Like tasking them with questions about network coverages, asking HR to serve as billing experts isn’t a long-term strategy. Our own medical Bill Review team spends hours reviewing each bill—and frequently save our clients thousands in billing errors—proving that true expertise and time are the only way to help them avoid unnecessary charges. To solve this problem, consider outsourcing bill review to the experts.
Understanding their network (7%)
Network coverages are tricky, and the results of choosing an out-of-network provider can be financially devastating. Yet this question returns again and again because employees aren’t equipped to find high-quality, low-cost care. Carrier sites are clunky. Price comparison tools are hard to navigate. Family and friends definitely can’t help. So, they turn to HR. It may not be your job to help them search for a doctor, procedure facility, or specialist, but who’s to say how high their bills will climb if you don’t?
This is an impossible problem, but the solution is simple: give employees access to live navigation support. Navigation support means employees can always find a satisfying solution that works within their network coverage. It saves you the headache of performing the search and saves them the gut-churning fear that accompanies an unexpected bill.
Locating ID Cards (6%)
Let’s end with perhaps the most basic question of all: “how do I get my ID card?” We’ve heard that HR gets this question from employees who are already at the dentist, employees who are asking for a spouse, or employees who simply misplaced their card. It’s not their fault – a paper card is hardly the most effective way to communicate benefits. Centralizing benefits gives employees a one-stop-shop approach to these key materials. But how to centralize? While many companies also rely on benefits portals (90% of those we surveyed, in fact) it’s worth pointing out that this solution isn’t typically mobile. Consider a mobile benefits card that’s impossible to lose, forget, or destroy. Most carriers include digital versions of their cards in their individual apps, and pointing employees there may help. A centralized mobile wallet that houses all their cards is an even simpler solution.
Answer these HR questions, save hours every week
Of course, our survey only touched the benefits-focused questions HR must answer each week (and only asked about a few categories, at that). It’s easy to imagine that payroll questions, leave policy requests, remote work concerns, and more make this year especially intense for HR teams. No wonder you’re spending more than a quarter of your week on this task.
Getting ahead of employee questions is, at its core, a matter of giving them the tools and resources to answer questions themselves. Unfortunately, until employees are empowered in this way, you won’t be free to focus on what really matters this year: supporting them. With a mobile solution that includes provider search, Bill Review, a digital wallet, and live support, you’ll be free to focus on serving them better in 2021.
Schedule a demo today to see how HealthJoy is building a better employee benefits experience.