How CEO Insight Can Add Value When Choosing Employee Benefits

An engaged workforce is high on any CEO’s wish list. But recent Gallup research found less than a third of U.S. workers feel involved, enthusiastic or committed to their work. And that affects the bottom line: Companies with engaged employees can perform up to 202 percent higher than other companies.

Employee benefits can be a powerful tool to drive increased engagement, staff retention and productivity. But benefits programs are a major investment for any business. To maximize your return on investment, it’s important to set a solid benefits communication strategy. Here are 3 practical tips on how CEO insight can help support key HR objectives for your benefits program.

#1. Set the parameters of success. Be clear on the right evaluation metrics with your HR team. If you don’t know or agree on what success looks like internally, it’s impossible to achieve it across the business.

Develop metrics based on specific targets everyone agrees are important. For example, if you want to lower healthcare spend per employee (currently estimated at $12,954 dollars), you can track participation rates in wellness benefits such as subsidized gym memberships and weight-loss programs. Increased participation in these benefits can be a good indication your program is moving in the right direction.


A healthier workforce also drives greater productivity through reduced absenteeism and “presenteeism”—when an employee is present but not fully productive. This currently costs global businesses up to $1,650 billion per year.

Make sure you set aside time every month to review progress with HR and discuss what’s working, what’s not and the next practical steps for success. These practices will help HR make better-informed decisions.

#2. Ensure business buy-in. Nearly two-thirds of organizations don’t have a budget specifically devoted to benefits communication, but an under-resourced strategy is doomed to fail.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, CEOs can leverage the relationships they already have with different teams to enhance communication across the business. By explaining why the business is investing in certain benefits and how they’ll support core objectives, leaders across the business will understand the advantages and goals. This means you’re more likely to have maximum buy-in from the start.

Bear in mind your benefits providers may have low- or no-cost benefits communication services and solutions you can take advantage of, too. These can include group and individual meetings, printed materials and digital communications. If they don’t, it might be time to consider a change.

#3 Close the C-Suite gap. There’s no substitute for the C-Suite rolling up its sleeves and getting personally involved in benefits options. Serving as a role model can be particularly effective for wellness-related programs.

For example, when MD Anderson first initiated its wellness program, its president started taking regular walks through the office with the company’s new wellness coach. For many, it was the first time the president had been in their work space and he tended to start conversations with “How’s your wellness?” This helped demonstrate it was ok to take a fitness break during the work day and health was taken seriously across the whole business.

At Colonial Life, the CEO drove an effort to spruce up stairwells with inviting graphics and inspirational messages, and encouraged employees to take the stairs instead of elevators. He announced his personal “stairs only” policy and challenged employees to call him out if they caught him in an elevator. As a result, increased stair use has become part of the company’s culture.

If it’s impossible to speak directly to your workforce as a collective, become a “social CEO” and share messages about benefits offerings on your company network, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook to increase visibility.

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