How to boost employee benefits utilization

How to boost employee benefits utilization

Historically, employee benefits are woefully underused. Some studies suggest that less than 7% of workers take full advantage of their benefits packages — and only 19% of employers believe workers genuinely understand the benefits plan they have.   

Under-utilization can impact a company’s bottom line — benefits are expensive, and when they go unused, it can be frustrating and costly.  Ensure you’re getting the most ROI from your carefully curated benefits packages by working to improve your company’s benefits utilization rate. Learn more about benefits utilization here. We’ll cover the common barriers to utilizing benefits and provide strategies to improve utilization.

Common barriers to utilizing employee benefits

Several common barriers can negatively impact the utilization rate of your employee benefit packages.

Lack of awareness

It’s common for employees to not know about all the perks they have in their benefits packages. This could be due to several reasons, including not enough promotion, lack of information provided, or available information being too complex or overwhelming.

Communication issues

Even if you make it a point to discuss benefits plans in the workplace, your message may not resonate with everyone. Jargon-heavy explanations or mountains of paperwork and technical information can confuse and frustrate people.

Complex processes

Accessing benefits can be annoying for employees if they must log in to multiple portals, websites, or platforms. Complicated procedures can make navigating the range of benefits you offer too difficult. As a result, benefits utilization will take a hit. If you want a high utilization rate, make the information as easy as possible to access and understand.

Not personalizing communication

If you’re inundating employees with information about programs and benefits irrelevant to them, their lives, and their needs, there’s a high chance they’ll disengage. For example, sending smoking cessation support information to people who don’t smoke won’t be effective. Once people regularly ignore information and updates, getting them to interact with any future communication you send out is challenging. 

Strategies to boost employee benefits utilization

Increasing utilization isn’t just about improving employee benefits — it’s generally more about ensuring people get as much as possible from the benefits you offer. Use the following strategies to increase engagement and boost employee utilization. 

1. Streamline enrollment processes

Complex enrollment processes will discourage many employees from taking advantage of your benefits. Streamline the process by offering digital solutions like online portals or apps to make signing up easier and faster. Further simplify your enrollment process by:

  • Using online forms for enrollment
  • Offering pre-enrollment
  • Allowing digital signature options
  • Creating checklists so deadlines and supplemental information aren’t missed
  • Bringing in a benefits broker to hold a seminar or Q&A session
  • Creating an FAQ page on your intranet

2. Promote digital accessibility

An effective way to increase overall benefits usage for eligible employees is by implementing digital accessibility options where possible. For example, if mental health benefits are part of your comprehensive healthcare package, you might partner with an online therapy platform like Talkspace, making access to care more convenient. 

The accessibility of online therapy for employees means people can get help from the comfort and convenience of their own homes — no need to carve out time getting to and from a provider’s office. Other opportunities for digital accessibility include:

  • Making sure your online resources have user-friendly interfaces
  • Including audio or video descriptions of benefit details
  • Offering platforms and tools that are known for their UX

3. Tailor employee benefits packages

The future of employee benefits is centered around customization. Benefits packages and incentives are not a one-size-fits-all deal. Tailoring packages according to individual employee needs helps ensure maximum utilization since people are more likely to use benefits that they need and value. Ways to customize benefits plans include offering things like:

  • Student loan repayment assistance
  • Fitness subscriptions
  • Pet insurance policies
  • Childcare allowance

4. Offer thorough benefits education

For employees, trying to understand benefits can be a daunting exercise. In fact, research shows that up to 85% of employees are confused about their available benefits. Offering thorough and detailed education can ensure everyone who needs help gets it. 

Better-informed employees will be less stressed or confused, more confident, and more likely to use their available benefits. Promoting employee benefits might look like:

  • Hosting workshops
  • Offering Q&A sessions
  • Providing online tutorials
  • Creating and distributing step-by-step guides

5. Provide incentives

Offering incentives is a great way to increase employee engagement with wellness and benefits programs. For incentives to be truly effective, they should be enticing enough to motivate employees to learn more about — and use — their benefits packages. Incentives could include:

  • Offering rewards 
  • Recognition
  • Discounts on apps or programs your benefits packages offer

6. Communicate reminders year-round

Regular communication is imperative when it comes to increasing the use of employee benefits. Too often, though, employers limit reminders to enrollment season only. 

When employees understand their benefits, they’re more inclined to use them, so an ongoing conversation is critical. For instance, you can:

  • Send monthly emails that highlight various benefits
  • Create brief videos that explain complex topics
  • Distribute digital newsletters to spotlight specific services or perks

7. Utilize multi-channel communication

Using multiple channels to promote benefits means your message reaches more employees in more places. In addition to traditional forms of communication — like emails, newsletters, and digital platforms — you can also promote your benefits via other avenues to leverage engagement. Outside-the-box communication tools could include:

  • Having Town Hall meetings
  • Creating informative posters, pamphlets, and infographics
  • Using a mobile app dedicated to managing employee benefits
  • Posting in private groups on social media networks
  • Publishing a page on the company intranet site

8. Share peer testimonials

Few things are as convincing as a trusted colleague’s experience. Peer testimonials can be an excellent tool that boosts benefits utilization rates, with real-world examples of benefits people may not know much about. 

Encourage workers to share positive experiences with others as a testament to the value of your available benefits. You can accomplish this by:

  • Dedicating a column in a newsletter for personal accounts
  • Setting aside time during dedicated benefits meetings for people to speak
  • Allowing employees to post on social accounts

Boost benefits utilization with Talkspace

If you’re looking for ways to give your employee benefits package a competitive edge, consider partnering with Talkspace. This innovative platform offers secure, convenient, and affordable online therapy sessions so mental health services are accessible to everyone in your organization.

Talkspace connects employees with licensed therapists from the comfort of their homes or offices whenever their schedules allow. Solutions like this ensure more employees have time to take advantage of the mental health benefits they need. 

According to research, an estimated 76% of full-time workers have one or more symptoms of a mental health condition. Talkspace addresses this incredible need with over 70 clinically supported programs and classes, self-guided programs, one-on-one therapy, and more. Advanced analytics can drive future decisions by assessing engagement and utilization, so you know that what you’re offering is needed and, more importantly, being used.  

Reach out to Talkspace today to learn how to implement our offering within your benefits coverage package — you’ll have healthier and happier employees who get the most out of your benefits and know how much you care. The result is a more productive and engaged workforce.  


  1. Financial, Origin. “How to Improve Employee Benefit Utilization.” Origin, March 17, 2023.  
  2. “Employees Want Help Understanding Benefits Offered by Employers.” Ameritas, June 5, 2023. 
  3. Greenwood , Kelly, and Julia Anas. “It’s a New Era for Mental Health at Work.” Harvard Business Review, October 4, 2021. 

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