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Many businesses go above and beyond the basics of HR solutions to offer employees a wide range of benefits. However, not all workers know they have these services at their fingertips and as a result, they are not taking advantage of the voluntary programs afforded to them. 

Employers want more engagement with voluntary benefits
A recent study from MetLife found that, despite employee benefit satisfaction reaching a record high in 2013, most employers are unhappy with the rate of participation in voluntary programs. While 62 percent of businesses cite enrollment rates as the most important criteria for determining if a program is a success, and 59 percent want to offer more diverse services, few take the time to implement them properly. 

That is ultimately a detriment to individual companies, as they may be doing a disservice to employees while also missing out on the chance to improve engagement and staff satisfaction. 

"Our research shows that engaged employees not only lead to higher participation, but can also pay dividends when it comes to employee loyalty," said Michael Fradkin, the senior vice president of markets and growth strategies at MetLife. "The study finds employees who strongly agree that their company's communications help them select benefits that best meet their needs are more than twice as likely to say they are 'very loyal' to their employers." 

Identifying obstacles to participation
Companies that are dissatisfied with employee participation with regard to voluntary benefits may be suffering from a lapse in communication. Staff members may be simply unaware of the many options they have, or they could be unsure of how to go about enrolling in these programs. According to the study, about 38 percent of employees said they were not confident they made the right decision regarding their benefits at the start of the last enrollment period, and more than half said they would like more help with regard to understanding how their HR services work. 

"If employers add to their benefits offering, but aren't seeing the employee participation levels they anticipated, this may indicate a need for better benefits education and communications, rather than a lack of interest on the part of employees," Fradkin added. 

Companies can find easier ways to improve engagement
Businesses that take the time to communicate with employees may see enrollment numbers increase, and with it employee satisfaction. Human resource outsourcing can be particularly beneficial in these situations, as an accredited service will be familiar with the best ways to inform the staff. By educating workers and supplying them with the benefits they want, employers can make the most of their programs – and enjoy the many advantages that follow.