Colonial Life white paper points path to more effective benefits enrollments

Newest research report shows employers how to use a retail mindset to drive participation in and satisfaction with their benefits programs.

Woman using tablet

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Dec. 1, 2014) — Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, which supports more than 80,000 of America’s businesses and their employees, released Monday a new research paper that shows employers who want a more effective benefits enrollment for their employees need to think like retailers.

Choosing benefits should be viewed as a consumer purchasing decision, according to Colonial Life’s “Building a Better Benefits Enrollment: Using consumer behavior to create more effective enrollment.” The paper uses research by Colonial Life, Unum and industry organizations to show employers how employees make benefits decisions and the communication and enrollment strategies they can use to increase participation in and satisfaction with the benefits plan.

“Financial protection benefits are more important than ever for America’s workers during these tough economic times, and the rise of benefits technology means the way they’re purchasing those benefits is changing,” said Richard Shaffer, vice president of enrollment at Colonial Life. “One of our challenges is to combine the power of the traditional high-touch personal counseling session with those emerging technologies.

“Employers have a great opportunity to help their employees obtain the protection they and their families need by presenting and structuring benefit choices in ways consumers best receive them and making benefit recommendations and advice available to employees on-line and offline.”

Interesting findings in the research include:

  • Employees strongly indicate they want choice in their benefits, but offering an overwhelming number of options can negatively affect decision-making and purchasing.
  • Employers can encourage participation by informing employees about the numbers of their coworkers who have enrolled and what benefits others are choosing.
  • “Nudging” employees to make an active choice on each benefit option encourages them to become better educated about their needs and options to meet them.
  • Three weeks is the optimal time frame for employees to adequately review benefits materials and make good decisions for enrollment, and dramatically increases satisfaction with the benefits education and enrollment process.
  • Younger employees — often assumed to be most comfortable with a completely online process — may benefit most from personal assistance offered by one-to-one benefits counseling sessions.

The white paper is the latest in an ongoing series of research briefs produced by Colonial Life to help position the company as a thought leader in financial protection benefits, communication and enrollment.

About Colonial Life

Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, dental, cancer, critical illness and hospital confinement indemnity insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support more than 80,000 businesses and organizations, representing more than 3 million of America’s workers and their families. For more information visit or connect with the company at, and