Talent Acquisition and Retention: Making Data Driven Decisions, Part 2

Talent Acquisition and Retention: Making Data Driven Decisions, Part 2

Last month we shared data insights regarding talent acquisition and retention from Kurt Murray and Michelle Prokup from Assurance. They had originally presented this information at our 2019 TRICOM Client Conference in September, and we felt their insights were worth sharing. Assurance is an independent insurance brokerage firm serving the staffing industry with over 400 clients across the U.S.

In their presentation, Kurt and Michelle looked at the research when it comes to talent acquisition and retention, and how staffing companies can aid these efforts by looking at the demographics of their workforce and potential recruits to better understand what helps job seekers make the decision to come on board, as well as stay there once they’ve accepted the job.

This month we’re focusing on the second part of their presentation: crafting benefit plan strategies based on data.

When crafting a benefit plan strategy, it’s important to first perform a demographic analysis of your company population so you can understand what benefits will be important for which workers. It’s also important to start thinking in terms of overall “benefits” instead of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Another key element is to beef up your MEC plan and rename it. This helps to let employees know exactly what their cost is. Finally, provide more options – developing packages for these different options can help keep things simple.

Things to consider:

  • Include benefit information in all job postings and on social media. Studies prove workers value benefits above pay.
  • Communicate and enroll during onboarding. 56 percent of workers say a company’s culture is valued more than salary.
  • Onboarding is a critical time in the employment relationship to communicate culture and key messages. Onboarding can drive many factors of the employment relationship including engagement and tenure.
  • Reduce paper communications and use auto-texting to verify coverage, deductions, effective date, etc.
  • Give benefits prominence and educate your staff on the options.
  • Drop ACA terms like “MEC” and turn them into an MEC “Plus” plan (with a new name).
    • Add coverage for doctor office visits
    • Add prescription coverage with some embedded life insurance
    • Add Telehealth benefits, a low-cost alternative that requires little to no time off work and can prescribe and handle many routine ailments
  • Avoid deductibles and use only co-pays so employees know the cost of every covered item.
  • Consider default enrollment with opt-out
    • Widely used for 401(k) and disability
    • High persistency rate and improves satisfaction
    • Streamlines administration


When it comes to managing profitability, Kurt and Michelle point out that the cost of enhanced MEC benefits are often within the normal cost charged for most MECs. They also suggest that you consider where you invest your compensation money: in down times, pay becomes more important, while in good times, benefits rise in importance. They found that $1 invested in benefits generates more profit than $1 invested in payroll. Plus, some benefits can be done on a pre-tax basis, which saves you over 7.5 percent.

Communication and Technology

There are three types of learners: visual (learn from seeing), Auditory (learn from hearing), and tactile/kinesthetic (learn from doing). It helps to have a combination of communication tactics to reach each type of learner in your organization. For example, use print, internet, video, social media, mobile apps, infographics, and telephonic/in-person options to reach different types of learners. Start at the recruiting process and incorporate these different types of communication into your onboarding. You can also consider outsourcing benefits administration to make the process even easier.

For enrollment, explore using internet-based options and self-service, and get rid of paper. These options don’t have to be expensive, and some are even free to use. Plus, more employees expect internet-based options and self-service (think “the Amazon experience”). Keep messages simple, and make whatever enrollment method you use mandatory.

Remember, better communication means better employee experiences, which equates to higher engagement. You can achieve this by:

  • Mandating choices – opt out is better than opt in
  • Making it simple – packaged options work!
  • Frequency – use ongoing auto-texting, for example
  • Providing decision support
  • Offering easy access to benefits information via the right technology


Kurt and Michelle stressed that it’s important to leverage technology because 76 percent of candidates expect to be able to apply, receive feedback and get communications electronically. Texting has also been found to be a preferred method of communication: texting had a 99 percent open rate compared to email’s 8 percent. Texting also had a 37 percent response rate compared to email’s 2 percent. Also look for options that include call center support. Processes that can be automated include applications, skills inventories, eligibility and eligibility changes, offers of coverage, enrollment/waivers, payroll integration to automate deductions, transmitting enrollment to insurance carriers, employee self-service, benefits communications (including open enrollment, upcoming events, reminders of when coverage and payroll deductions begin, etc.), and ACA reporting data.

Next Steps

  • Look for ways to beef up medical benefits without adding cost
  • Make sure you have options that will appeal to your workforce (Have your broker do a demographic analysis)
  • Highlight benefits in job postings, on your website, and in social media
  • Review your onboarding process to maximize its impact, and include benefit enrollment as part of onboarding
  • Use technology to communicate, enroll, and manage benefits
  • Enlist help from your broker in creating effective communications
  • Drop MEC and other ACA terms – rebrand your plans to clearly communicate the benefit of benefits


Benefits can be a powerful recruiting and retention tool. The key to using benefits successfully in these areas is strong communication and leveraging technology to help in your efforts. For more information or questions, you can contact Kurt or Michelle at Assurance. Find contact information for Assurance on our Preferred Partners page.

Close