5 Hidden Benefits of Private Exchanges for Employee Engagement
We hear a lot about the advantages of private exchanges for employers and health care consumers, but I’m here to represent another point of view. As VP of People Operations at Liazon, I’m focused on making the Bright Choices® experience as rewarding and simple as possible for our associates. And I’ve learned a few things about how companies that have adopted a private exchange can find some surprising benefits when it comes to employee engagement as well.
What are the hidden “benefits” of implementing a private exchange solution for your company?
1. Promote a culture of trust and transparency.
Many companies are interested in being more transparent, both with their customers and also their employees. According to Fast Company magazine, “Transparency wins, because transparency engenders trust.”
Private exchanges have transparency built in, particularly as it relates to the amount of money an employer is contributing toward their employees’ benefits – known as a defined contribution. Our philosophy with our employees at Liazon is one of transparency, trust, and openness. Our employees know what our costs are as much as they know their own, as well as the cost of their plans, when it comes to their benefits. There is no hidden agenda. Knowing what their total compensation package is at any given time is becoming a plus when it comes to attracting and retaining the best employees who have lots of good options in front of them.
2. Empower your associates.
By investing in and trusting in your employees with a private exchange model, it shows you value them both as employees and as individuals – and this makes them feel confident and in control. Enabling them to make decisions, and providing the necessary tools and education with which to do so, makes them feel responsible for their own decisions.
And they take this responsibility very seriously. In fact, 88% of the employees we surveyed last year reported that they preferred choosing their own benefits over having their employer decide for them. And we saw a 25% increase in employee engagement with their health care decisions from their second year on a Liazon-powered Exchange compared to the first. So empowerment grows over time.
3. Demonstrate corporate culture and core values.
What are your company’s core values? At Liazon, we value integrity, creativity, innovation and diversity of thought, among others. Whatever your core values are, on some level they probably overlap with ours, because most forward-thinking, competitive companies today value all of these things.
Private exchanges are our industry, but by adopting one at your company, you embody the ideas of creativity, innovation and diversity of thought because you are essentially telling your employees – we’re doing something differently and we’re doing it because we value you. You’re taking a stand for something you believe in – and that demonstrates integrity. Companies that adopt a private exchange have put their money (and their resources) where their mouth is when it comes to being leading edge and employee-centric.
4. Demonstrate corporate innovation.
Back to the core value of innovation – I feel this one is essential for any company that wants to survive today. Technology has made so much possible and even if your company has nothing at all to do with technology, chances are, technology has enabled you to work faster and better. Technology provides the fuel for private exchanges like Bright Choices – which enable employees to choose their benefits through an online marketplace with guided support made possible through a sophisticated algorithm.
Forward thinking companies get technology, but they also get the idea of defined contribution as well as the concept of an “exchange marketplace,” which are still fairly innovative concepts today. They don’t wait around for others to make the first move. They’re not stuck in the status quo.
5. Help build community.
When employees feel like they’re part of building something together as a team, it’s not just empowering on an individual level but it also helps to foster community within an organization. And when you introduce an innovative way for them to choose and use their benefits, something pretty interesting happens. They start talking about benefits! They want to get advice from each other, they want to learn.
Co-education and peer-to-peer conversations get stirred, not just at open enrollment, but all year-round. Empower your associates with the choice to make a decision that affects their standard of living as well as their very livelihood, and they start to really understand the meaning of total compensation.
So what’s my advice to the HR professional interested in reaping these benefits at their own workplaces? Partner with your leadership to show them there’s a better way. Don’t worry about having to be the benefits expert anymore – let Liazon, as an industry-leading private benefits exchange provider, be that expert. Then you can get back to doing what you were meant to do in your job – find and keep the best talent you can.