A recent Harris Interactive Study, commissioned by prominent disability insurance carrier Unum, found that employees who receive frequent and thorough education on their available benefits are also more likely to view their employer positively, and to feel that their employer values them. The survey establishes a positive correlation between employees understanding of their benefits and productivity.
Among the recommendations from the study: Give employees time to study their benefits. The study found that workers who had at least three weeks to review their benefits were much more likely to report they were given enough time to review benefits materials, and much more likely to report that they were able to make informed decisions.
The study also found that best results were obtained by companies that reached employees using at least three forms of media, including the Web, print materials and employee meetings and presentations.
The survey also found that communications are growing more and more important to employee relations. Your HR staff should be working hard to communicate with your employees in a variety of ways. Some contributing factors:
Workers are inundated with choices. The days of perhaps having a health plan and pension plan and not much else are over. New and popular kinds of plans, including Section 125 “cafeteria” style plans that give workers a wide menu of benefits to choose from, require that workers process more and more information about their own benefits. Now employees must learn about a wide range of benefits ranging from flexible spending arrangements to various kinds of health plans to long term care and disability insurance to pre-paid legal benefits.
Additionally, traditional defined benefit pension plans are going the way of the dodo bird, now mostly replaced by defined contribution plans such as the 401(k). This places much more burden on the employee, and requires much more education on the part of the employer. Further, medical benefits have evolved from one-size fits all plans to increasingly consumer-directed options.
These benefits are valued by employees. But only after an intensive effort by management and HR professionals to provide education and guidance to your employees. After all, after all the time and expense you go through to create a powerful menu of benefits for your employees to choose from, all of it will go unappreciated if you don’t make an effort to brief and educate your employees on your benefits package.
Thanks to employee turnover, this is an ongoing process. Your employee benefit briefings have a half-life. This is an effort you need to renew time and time again. Fortunately, help is available. Each of your carriers and your benefits agents has a variety of tools at their disposal to help convey the benefit and value of each component in your employee benefits menu. This can help boost enrollment, cut your payroll taxes in some cases, and help ensure your best employees – the ones with the most options – stay with you.