A Jellyvision survey of benefits-eligible employees uncovered a vast disconnect between what HR is trying to tell employees, and what they really understand about their benefits:
- 93% of employees say live presentations are helpful for communication about wellness programs, but only 21% of employers communicate via presentations
- Just 30% of employees know when they can make changes to their health care plan
- More than 20% of employees don't know whether their employer provides critical illness insurance
- Most employers (62.5%) use e-mail to communicate on benefits but employees prefer one-on-one meetings (used by only 29% of employers) and direct mail (only 18.5%)
That means a significant amount of money is being wasted given the cost of benefits programs.
"Companies spend 20-30% of their compensation budget on benefits," said communications specialist Jennifer Benz. "The average person does not understand their benefits, the worth of them, or how to use them, so there are huge, huge opportunities for employers to get much more out of the programs they're investing a tremendous amount of money in."
Key HR takeaways
Communicate more often:
Employees are more likely to retain information if they are hearing it more than once a year. "The most common mistakes companies make with their communications usually are not communicating frequently enough, so trying to pile on all the information around all benefits two weeks before annual enrolment," said Benz. Try releasing information six times a year so your communications are hard to miss.
Offer smaller chunks of information:
Allowing employees to digest communications will help them understand it properly. Spread out the information so you're giving people information in bite-sized chunks. Create a list of five to 10 benefits and title it '10 benefits you might be missing out on' to help employees see what's really available to them.
Make information easy to access:
If employees can't access the information from home, when they're making decisions with their families, then they may never read it thoroughly. People want to learn about their benefits in a way that's tailored to them and easily accessible when they need information. For most companies that’s going to mean a user-friendly, preferably interactive website.
You offer benefits to help attract, retain and look after staff, but benefits can end up being an expensive missed opportunity if they aren’t communicated effectively and hence understood fully. And if new research is anything to go by, that’s exactly the case in many companies.