The Harvard Business Review recently reported 60% of survey participants considered benefits and related perks to be a major factor in considering a job offer. The survey also stratified benefits that were deemed most valuable by prospective employees; health, dental, and vision insurance were considered to be “heavily weighted” by 47% of men and 61% of women. In addition to these health-related benefits, flexible hours, more vacation time, and work from home options were also very high on the list.
According to the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, companies spend on average 25% to 40% of an employee’s salary on benefits. Despite the sizable expense associated with providing and supporting employee benefits, a study performed by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans highlighted ineffective communication as a major flaw within employee benefits management:
- Only 19% of employees have a “high level” of understanding of their benefits;
- 80% of employees do not fully read the benefits collateral; and
- 50% of employees do not understand the employee benefit materials.
Communication is critical as healthcare costs continue to rise, employers change insurance carriers, benefits change, and consumer-driven health plans are implemented. In fact, 65% of employers say employee education is a high priority and 40% of employers now have a budget focused solely on communicating employee benefits.
A recent publication from MetLife, one of the largest global providers of insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs, indicated that communication is only part of the issue – another is ensuring employees are able to seamlessly navigate their choices and options, enroll into relevant benefits, and file claims when necessary. This aspect of the experience is both costly to administer and often a frustrating experience.
There is simply too much at risk for employees not to fully understand or be able to seamlessly navigate and access their benefits. This is why Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities, such as those in IPsoft’s Amelia conversational agent platform, can play an important role in improving employee communication and engagement on benefits, while also making the delivery of this information more efficient.
What Amelia Can Do
There is consensus within the marketplace that poor communication and navigation are an inherent problem for employee benefits management. This lack of communication translates into poor understanding about available benefits among employees, and a lack of knowledge or support on how to access them when needed.
Amelia’s design makes her an ideal fit to deliver value to the employee benefit landscape. In addition to her ability to converse with employees using natural language and understanding, she can assimilate complex text files documenting the business rules related to an employee’s benefits, as well as interoperate with benefit systems.
With specific benefits, Amelia could help employees navigate multiple benefit categories including corporate vision plans, physical therapy regimens, and sponsored wellness initiatives such as exercise and weight loss programs. She could also provide information on deductibles for specific procedures such as orthopedic, dental and others. For example, an employee may have a dental benefit plan in place, but may be unsure of relevant details in the event of a dental injury or disease, or how to file a claim. With her integration to back-end systems and information sources, Amelia can provide employee information quickly and accurately, at any time.
Employees and their respective employers will benefit from digital cognitive agents like Amelia that excel within a multimodal communication environment, involving voice and text and other channels. Amelia possesses this capability within her stand-alone version or through integration within a call center.
IPsoft has received positive feedback from existing customers that utilize Amelia in similar scenarios for call and support centers, with Amelia handing more than half of inquiry volume, allowing human colleagues to handle higher-level tasks, complex customers, or both.