Having Great Benefits Isn't Enough: How to Teach Employees to Use Them

The full spectrum of a company’s benefits and perks often goes unnoticed and becomes an underutilized and forgotten resource for employees. Employees typically focus on medical insurance or PTO, overlooking other valuable benefits and perks their employer offers.

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At JDM, we take pride in the benefits we offer and take steps to ensure employees are well informed about all of the resources available to them. Here are four strategies we use to teach employees how to use their hard-earned benefits.

1. Built-in reminders

At JDM, employees are encouraged to take their birthdays off. Often, employees forget about this benefit, don’t want to take PTO because they just started working at JDM, or might have another upcoming vacation. 

To help combat this, we’ve set automatic Slack reminders to encourage employees to take their birthday day off within a week of their birthday. Since implementing this change, we’ve seen an increase to 96% utilization of this benefit. 

2. Total Compensation Statements

We provide every employee with Total Compensation Statements twice a year. These statements break down each benefit and its corresponding value. We use these statements to encourage employees to utilize the benefits they may have left on the table. 

After the Total Compensation Statements are distributed to employees, we typically see an increase in engagement for two major JDM benefits: PTO requests for those who have under-utilized our flexible PTO policy, and requests to use their professional development stipend. 

3. Knowledge Sharing and Education

It’s essential to share knowledge and help educate employees on their benefits and how to use them. Before new employees join the team, we provide a New Hire Guide along with their offer letter that provides more information on the agency's different benefits. 

Once they start, we go over them in more detail during their new hire orientation. Occasionally we’ll make announcements during our weekly all-hands meetings of new benefits and offerings from our existing benefits providers. During open enrollment, we encourage employees to schedule 1:1 time with People Operations to go over the different benefit offerings in more detail if needed.

4. The Power of Social Proof

Nothing encourages employees to use their benefits more effectively than seeing their co-workers take advantage of them. Employees are encouraged to share their PTO experiences in our dedicated Slack channel (#travel-channel), with photos and highlights from recent vacations meant to celebrate the joy of well-earned time off. 

We’ve found that this helps inspire employees to make their own plans (while of course taking steps to prepare themselves and their teammates for their time away).



People may choose to join companies in part because of the benefits they offer, but their satisfaction with their experience at the company depends, in part, on actually using those benefits. 

If you’re in People Ops, make sure you’re taking steps to keep your teammates aware of and engaged in the benefits you’ve worked so hard to establish – everyone’s job will be better for it.

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