“There’s an app for that”—do you remember where that came from? The now-famous phrase actually premiered in 2009 as part of an Apple ad campaign to promote the iPhone. 10+ years later, this phrase seems more relevant than ever.
Apps have completely infiltrated our lives. From social media and communications to transportation and travel—several industries have been totally transformed by the mobile-first movement.
Though human resources has traditionally been a bit slower to respond to disruption, we are slowly but surely starting to see this change.
Consumer behaviors and expectations have changed, and it’s time to embrace these advances to provide the experience that people actually want—timely, convenient and frictionless.
We know that people spend a great deal of time on their phones each day—but just how much time is being spent on mobile, and how is that time being spent?
The average smartphone owner spends more than 3 hours per day on a mobile device and uses 30 different apps each month. Research also shows that there are between 60-90 apps on the average smartphone at any given time.
What are people doing on their phones? Well, 90% of time spent on phones is in mobile apps. Having a mobile-friendly benefits experience (aka a ‘responsive’ benefits platform) accessible via web browser is important, but it may not be enough to truly engage employees across devices.
Make Benefits Convenient
A dedicated mobile app lives on your phone. Unlike a responsive (‘mobile-friendly’) website, employees would not need to navigate to the benefits platform in a browser to find and use the information stored in PlanSource. Instead, they’d simply open the app in a single, frictionless step. The app was also designed to incorporate a finger ID, PIN or facial recognition for easy access to personal information on the go.
Make Benefits More Accessible
Offering and promoting a dedicated mobile app will make employee benefits more accessible to employees in the field or to employees that might not have access to a personal computer at home.
Increase Benefits Engagement
A byproduct of making benefits more convenient and accessible? Increased engagement! Adding mobile to your HR arsenal essentially gives employees an additional way for them to easily and quickly access and use their benefits.
Who is a good fit for a dedicated mobile app?
Not every employee is going to want a dedicated mobile app on their phone to manage their benefits—and that’s ok! Not every experience is a great fit for every person. The key to engagement is communicating to the right people at the right time. There’s definitely a use case for making benefits more convenient and accessible—which is exactly what you should look for in a benefits tech partner.
So, who is a good fit for a dedicated mobile app for benefits?
First and foremost, workforces that are in the field or that might not have access to a computer at work. This could include employees in manufacturing, construction or contracting, education or child care, or health care workers—to name just a few.
Additionally, not every person has access to a personal computer at home—which makes sense if you think about how advanced our personal phones have become. For many, a smart phone has completely replaced the need for a computer. In fact, studies show that ~25% of U.S. adults do not own a personal computer.
Mobile Benefits Enrollment—Strategic Materials
Strategic Materials is North America’s largest and most comprehensive glass recycler. They currently operate almost 50 plants across the United States and Canada. The dispersed, multilingual workforce presented several challenges from a management and engagement perspective.
Soon after migrating to PlanSource, their HR team took a totally new approach to open enrollment. Rather than forcing plant employees to enroll outside of work, they set up tablet stations inside each plant to make benefits more accessible. Because of this, they saw a substantial increase both on-time enrollments and enrollment in voluntary products.
5 Mobile App Features for Employees
Accessibility and convenience sound great—but what does that actually translate to from a functionality perspective? Why would an employee actually take the time to download a mobile app for benefits?
1.) Frictionless login via fingerprint, face ID or PIN
Logging in to view and manage benefits has never been easier. With a dedicated mobile app, employees don’t have to remember a URL, username, or password. Instead, they can simply use their fingerprint, face ID or a PIN to open the app and access information at their fingertips.
2.) Upload important documents for verification
Gone are the days of manually scanning and uploading important documents for life event changes, evidence of insurability (EOI) forms, etc. With a dedicated mobile app, employees can simply take a picture of the document or use a previously uploaded document and submit it for review in a few simple clicks. This will vastly accelerate the dependent verification and EOI process and make it easier for employees to actually submit their documentation!
3.) ID cards at your fingertips
Forget carrying around multiple ID cards and hoping you remember them for appointments. With a dedicated mobile app, employees can store carrier and plan cards for effortless access. They can even email or fax them to providers before the appointment to save time.
If you’re not currently using video for benefits education, check the PlanSource video library.
5.) Benefits enrollment
With helpful tools like real-time decision support and videos for benefits education, employees can use the mobile app for everything from benefits research and support to the full enrollment process.
Often, benefits are a family decision, so giving employees the flexibility to take that information home and discuss with their partner is invaluable.
The app enrollment experience is optimized for mobile consumption while still offering the complete, robust experience you’d have on a desktop—so nothing gets left behind. Shop for and compare different plans, view personalized recommendations and easily switch between devices without losing progress.
How to Drive Adoption For Your Benefits Mobile App
Timing for Promotions—Open Enrollment and Beyond
Open enrollment is a natural time to promote a benefits mobile app. Let employees know that they can use the app for education and support or to complete the full enrollment process. Of course, HR comms isn’t (or shouldn’t be!) limited to just open enrollment. Keep your benefits mobile app top-of-mind throughout the year. For example, flu season is a great time to remind employees about their benefits and using the mobile app to manage ID cards for appointments. Spring can be a great time to remind employees about using the mobile app to add new plan members after a life event (marriage, adoption, etc.).
Use Multiple Communication Channels
Email is still considered the most effective marketing and communications tool. Yes, inboxes are overcrowded, but you can easily cut through the clutter by using simple and effective email marketing best practices. In the email, be sure to link directly to any applicable app stores to drive downloads and engagements. The less steps an employee has to take to get the app, the more likely they are to download.
Whoever said ‘print is dead’ clearly hasn’t seen our robust library of print materials for HR. An oldie but goodie, hanging posters in common areas is still a highly effective tactic to spread the word about new programs.
Text Message Alerts
What could be more relevant for promoting a mobile app than receiving a mobile alert with a link to immediately download from the app store? Sounds pretty convenient to us! As a reminder, text message campaigns are available as an add-on in the PlanSource platform. Of course, employees have to opt-in and agree to receive text alerts. So, while the response rate will likely be very high for text alerts, these might not reach your entire workforce.
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