Employee communication is a critical component in helping employees understand their benefits and make informed choices. No one knows this better than the benefits consultants at HUB International Gulf South and Mrs. Woods Woods, Benefits & Risk Management Specialist, RPM Pizza, LLC.

Headquartered in Gulfport, RPM is the largest franchisee of Domino's Pizza in the U.S, operating delivery and carryout business from 127 locations across Mississippi and Louisiana.  Just over 75% of its 2,600 employees are hourly workers who have the option to purchase voluntary benefits. While voluntary benefits are expected to become an increasingly important cost management and retention strategy for employers, it has long been a key offering at RPM.  

Although RPM offered a wide array of voluntary benefits -- medical indemnity, critical illness, accident, disability, vision, dental and whole and term life -- participation was limited.  According to Mrs. Woods, employees did not understand the range of options available to them.  RPM engaged the HUB Gulf South team, led by Annette Dowdle, RHU, CCWC, Senior Vice President, HUB Gulf South to review RPM's voluntary benefits portfolio, recommend improvements, and orchestrate open enrollment.  "They did 99% of the work after we provided them direction," Mrs. Woods said.

The HUB Gulf South team coordinated with Complete Benefit Alliance (CBA) based in Birmingham, Alabama to provide enrollment and education services on a semi-annual basis to RPM team members. CBA not only accepted inbound calls but also made outbound calls to maximize employee enrollment.  A dual option dental plan was offered through Assurant Employee Benefits, vision through Davis Vision, three hospital indemnity plan options through Allstate; and short-term disability, term life, whole life and critical illness through Unum.  A group accident plan was added in 2012.

Among the improvements implemented were in-home mailings and telephonic assistance to answer specific questions about benefit plans from both employees and their spouses. "Communication is the key and not only to Team Members but to their spouses as well," Mrs. Woods noted. 

Following the initial enrollment cycle, plan participation increased from 13% to 41% overall.

"After we expanded our communication program to include phone assistance, the satisfaction level for our hourly Team Members increased," Mrs. Woods said.  "Many of them called to thank us for explaining benefits to them so they could make better choices."  Mrs. Woods's recommendation to her HR counterparts at other companies is to test a variety of communication approaches to determine what works best for their employees. On-site meetings were not as effective for RPM employees as was telephonic outreach.

In addition to enhancing its voluntary benefits program, RPM also relies on HUB to provide compliance counsel for its group health benefits program.  "We were looking for a broker who could challenge our thinking.  We also wanted to be completely comfortable that the answers we were getting to our questions were accurate."  Having access to HUB in-house compliance and ERISA counsel are major advantages, according to Mrs. Woods. 

RPM recently named the HUB Gulf South team "Strategic Partner of the Year" at a recent event honoring Michael Williams, Jennifer Taffaro, and Roxanne Valenti of HUB for 10 years of partnership. 

"I'm not one to offer recommendations quickly, but HUB is one partner that I don't hesitate to recommend to other companies," Mrs. Woods said.  "Their knowledge base and resources make my job a lot easier."