3 strategies to increase family engagement in benefits

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Key takeaways

Communication, education, and year-round access to advocacy support engage decision makers.

For many companies, open enrollment falls amidst the holiday season. And although many families spend extra quality time together during this time of year, conversations about benefits and insurance typically aren’t top of mind when there’s pie on the table.

However, as an employer, it’s important for you to ensure your employees — and their families — are well informed about the benefits you’re offering, especially if spouses, partners, or dependents can be added to policies. That’s because when spouses, partners and dependents are happy with their coverage, employees are more likely to be happy, too, leading to higher employee satisfaction and retention.

These three strategies will help you increase employee and family engagement in your benefits.


Your employee may carry their family’s benefits, but their spouse/partner might be the key decisionmaker when it comes to the family’s insurance. To reach the key decisionmaker in the family, you must communicate clearly through your employee. Custom communications delivered through a coordinated timeline will help you send clear directions for employee and spouse/partner engagement. Important messages to communicate include:

  • WHEN is enrollment? What key dates and times do your employee and their spouse/partner need to know?
  • HOW will enrollment work? What expectations are there for enrollment? What benefits consultation or support is being offered? Are meetings being held in-person or virtually?
  • WHAT benefits are being offered? Providing information and materials about the insurance products available can help families decide what coverage to get and who will carry which coverage. For example, your employee may carry the family’s major medical and supplemental health insurance, while their spouse carries the family’s life insurance.


Does your employee and their family understand the value of benefits that protect their income? Voluntary benefits can be a big help should they suffer an accident, critical illness, heart attack/stroke, cancer or hospitalization. Yet, a recent study found that 35% of employees report not fully understanding any of the employee benefits they enrolled in during their most recent open enrollment period.

Personal education meetings held with benefits professionals are an excellent way to help educate employees and their families about benefits. If possible, extend an invitation to spouses/partners to attend the meetings so they can directly receive the information and ask questions. If that’s not possible, provide employees with educational materials to take home, as well as ample opportunity to address spouse/partner questions and concerns.


Employees don’t stop needing help with their benefits after enrollment – that’s when they need to USE them. By providing ongoing advocacy, you can help ensure that your employees and their families are making the most of their coverage. Benefits advocates can help your employees shop for healthcare, answer benefits questions, find in-network providers and resolve claims issues. This year-round support will go a long way in improving employee satisfaction with your company’s benefits.

Optavise is here to help!

Do you need help reaching your employees — and their families — about your company’s benefits? Our communication, education and advocacy services are here to help! Learn more about our services by contacting us here.

1HR Morning, Study shows 35% of workers don’t understand their benefits, https://www.hrmorning.com/article/understand-benefits/, March 2021.