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Science and Comedy to Educate Employees About Enrollment

Unum–a provider of supplemental insurance on the forefront of applying behavioral science and comedy for good–partnered with Second City Works to tackle the human error in the open enrollment process, specifically around disability insurance.

The Unum team saw a funny pattern in the data: individuals were more likely to have life insurance than disability insurance, despite the fact that their odds of dying early are far lower than the odds of getting injured and having a long period off of work. Why might this occur? One behavioral explanation is that people can imagine dying early, whereas the various ways they may incur some injury preventing them from coming to work regularly are less top of mind, so they misestimate the probabilities. As a result, many individuals lack sufficient disability coverage; if they get in an accident, they need to draw down on their savings, turn to friends or family, or come to work and underperform instead of recuperating at home.

Further, the Unum team saw that employees were inclined to take up defaults set by HR, as apparent in data on 401 k plans; take-up was far higher when employees were automatically enrolled to save for retirement. As noted before, behavioral science explains this with our human tendency to go down the easiest path.

Recognizing the high cost both individuals and their employers face from insufficient disability coverage as well as the power of defaults, Unum partnered with TGG Group to put the two together. Employers needed to realize how powerful their default benefits package was in influencing employee behavior, and thoughtfully reconsider what those defaults were. And more specifically, if they deemed appropriate for their employee population, they needed to make enrollment the default option for disability just as with retirement savings.

But how to get the message across? No one wants to be told they’re making the wrong decision – employees and HR professionals alike. And that is where the comedy came in.

Knowing that few would want to listen to a psychology lecture or a dry list of facts on insurance, Second City Works, the B2B arm of Second City developed a short, funny video to illustrate the power of the defaults which employers set and the importance of considering disability insurance as one of those defaults.

Show Don’t Tell – Cut Through the Noise With Authentic Communication
Laugh. Learn. Retain. Repeat.

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