Why You Need a Digital-First Benefit Strategy

As the new shape of the post-COVID world begins to come into focus, benefits professionals must ask themselves if their plans could be delivering more value to the organization and its employees. In today’s uncertain economy, employers cannot afford to waste money on benefits that do not serve the real needs of your workforce. With healthcare delivery under a microscope, it's time for employers to double down on their commitment to providing employees with access to high-value care. The racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes that have surfaced this past year need to be at the forefront of the discussion. You have a fresh opportunity to support a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce by supporting benefit programs that are valued by minority groups and meet the needs of women, employees with disabilities, veterans, and the LGBTQ+ population. We must also recognize that the pandemic has changed the way we work and consider what changes are needed to support employees working more flexibly. And, as part time and gig workers become a bigger portion of the workforce, how do we engage and support them?

In short, your challenge is to reevaluate your culture and to align your benefits with the new ways employees are living and working today, leaving no one behind. Sound complex? It is. But embracing a digital-first paradigm can make it possible. Last year, many organizations put in temporary digital solutions to get by. Now is the time to reevaluate those solutions to ensure they can support a long-term, future-ready digital strategy.

Key role for decision support in building value

In a digital-first model, employees can choose among and easily access the benefits and resources they need, making them partners in creating individualized, high-value benefit bundles. That means decision-support tools  are more important than ever. Do your employees have access to online literature and videos to assist in challenging enrollment experiences? Do they have the ability to use online calculators and estimators to determine appropriate level of certain benefits such as life and disability insurance? Do they have cost comparison tools to compare the difference between the benefit offerings? And do they have access to tools that ask a series of questions across the full spectrum of benefit needs, and that's for medical, dental, vision, life disability and voluntary benefits? Decision support tools allow you to offer a bundled package of benefits that is robust and easy to use.

Decision-support tools can make open enrollment a very positive experience for your employees and increase the value they see in your benefit program. A new analysis of the 2021 open enrollment results for members using the Mercer Marketplace 365+ self-service online platform found that those who used our Expert Guidance decision-support tools spent an average of $372 less on their on their coverage -- and added one more coverage option – compared to members who didn’t use the tools. And their employers saved an average of 1.7% on the coverage elected by these employees as well.

During the pandemic, it’s likely that all of your employees have increased their usage of digital tools. So the time is right to build on that momentum with a thoughtful digital-first benefits strategy. Don't let the market tell you what to do – instead, take an active role in evaluating the market so you can provide the best value to your employees.

Tune into last week’s Mercer Marketplace 365+ webinar to learn more. You can watch the replay here.

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