The survey, conducted by insurance company Unum, also found that benefits education correlates to employee satisfaction. Among the employees who rated their benefits education as very good or excellent, 79 percent rated their employer as very good or excellent. This compares to only 30 percent of employees who said the education they received was fair or poor.
“Offering employees effective benefits education can contribute to satisfaction with their employer,” said Bill Dalicandro, vice president of Unum’s Consumer Solutions Group. “Even if employees don’t have a particularly good benefits package, those who say they received quality education about the benefits they are offered are far more likely to consider their employer a very good place to work.”
The Unum survey, conducted in December 2013, revealed a drop in satisfaction from 2012. Nearly three in 10 (27 percent) of respondents rated their benefits education as fair or poor.
In June 2014, benefits cost the average private industry employer $9.09 per hour worked. This is a sizable investment. Yet as the Unum poll proved, the cost of your benefits program matters less than your employees’ understanding of it.
A more recent survey by Alegeus Technologies found a disconnect between how employers viewed their benefits communications and how employees viewed them. About half of employees surveyed said they were satisfied with their employer’s benefits communications. But employers rated their communications at 9 to 19 percent higher.
Failing to pay attention to how your employees perceive their benefits and your education efforts could affect your recruiting and retention. As the economy improves, more workers are looking for new jobs. More than 2.5 million people quit their jobs in July 2014, up from 2.3 million in July 2013, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A survey by the Hay Group management consulting firm found that 38 percent of workers plan to change their job in the next five years—up from 30 percent just a few years ago.
Evaluating Your Benefits Communications
What do your employees know, versus what do they need to know? Surveying your employees can help you determine how effective your benefits communications are. A survey can help you gauge employees’ understanding of their benefits.
Specific questions you might want to ask include:
- Do they know all the types of benefits available to them? (i.e., medical, life, disability and other types of insurance)
- Do they know how these benefits work?
- How do they rate the value they receive for their contributions?
- Do they know where to get information about their benefits? (For example, HR department, online portal, your insurance broker
- How do they rate the quality of information they receive?
- How do they rate the frequency of information they receive?
- How satisfied are they with the overall quality of their benefit program?
- How do they rate your organization’s benefits versus other employers’?
- What would they do to improve the program?
Survey results can reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your benefit program and communications. After surveying, your next action steps are:
- Review survey results to define any problems/weaknesses.
- Set communication objectives. What do you want your communications to accomplish? Better understanding of benefit plans? Increase take-up rates of non-core benefits? Steer more employees to high-deductible health plan?
- Analyze and segment target audiences. Tailor messages to various audiences.
- Develop and pretest message concepts. What do you want to say?
- Remember the principles of effective communication. To change or spur action, use action verbs. Keep messages simple.
- Select communication channels. Where do you want to say it?
- Select, create and pretest messages and products. How do you want to say it?
- Evaluate your execution. How effectively did your communications meet their objectives?