Benefits are a huge draw when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. In fact, nearly six in 10 job seekers consider health and retirement benefits to be a major factor when deciding whether to accept an offer. And when employees use their benefits, like getting regular eye exams, their overall health and productivity can improve. But getting employees to actually use their benefits can be a struggle.

Spurring employees to use their benefits requires creativity, strategy and communication from HR departments. Employees who fail to avail themselves of these benefits are not just hurting themselves, they’re hurting the businesses they work for. Employers understand this and have been developing best practices for improving employee engagement with their benefits offerings.

According to Michael Guyette, president and CEO of vision plan provider VSP Global®, these best practices fall into three areas:

1. Offer coverage employees value

Without the right offerings--benefits that people find truly valuable and worth the copay--there’s not much you can do to get employees to engage with their plan over the long term.

To encourage plan participation and optimize ROI on the cost of providing benefits, savvy employers are increasingly turning to partners like VSP that offer personalized benefits and experiences. In doing so, companies are increasing plan participation and employees’ overall health and productivity. 

2. Educate employees about their benefits in nontraditional ways! 

Helping employees understand the value of their benefits is key to getting them to actually use those benefits. To do this effectively, try the following:

  • Gamify wellness offerings. To encourage employees to learn about and use their benefits, turn their wellness journeys into an ongoing game, providing extra recognition and benefits (like virtual badges and meal vouchers) for achieving specific milestones like timely enrollment or completion of eye exams.
  • Personalize communications. To get employees to use benefits, speak to their specific needs and interests. For instance, for younger employees you might focus on topics like fashion frame options. For employees nearing retirement, topics like aging-related eyesight issues would be more appropriate.
  • Communicate where employees (and their dependents) are. Email can be an effective way to engage employees in their benefits. For example, VSP Vision Care members receiving email communications are 30% more satisfied with the value their plan provides. But to make sure you’re engaging all employees, it’s important to reach out using a variety of platforms--from social media to onsite signage. Note: Sending exam reminders to employees’ homes can help with appointment accountability.
  • Create opportunities for employees to interact with benefits experts. For instance, have a benefits fair during the enrollment period. And get creative to incentivize employee engagement by doing things like holding drawings for prizes for those who visit all the booths at your fair.
  • Focus education efforts around the annual enrollment period. This is when employees are most likely to pay attention to benefits-related communications, events and programs.

3. Offer incentives to encourage engagement

The right incentives, such as rewards for completing annual eye exams or preventative screenings, can be very effective in nudging employees to increase their engagement with their benefits. 

“With proper incentives, people are more likely to use and, in turn, value their benefits,” says Guyette. “And through something as noninvasive as a comprehensive eye exam, you increase opportunities for the early detection of chronic diseases like diabetes that, if undiagnosed, can decrease quality of life and workplace productivity.”

Want to learn more about how vision benefits can advantage your company? Visit VSP today.