Employee Benefits: Education Leads to Dedication
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 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.
We've put together some of the suggestions from this study in order to help employers moving into the New Year.
Workers are inundated with choices. The days of having a standard health plan 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.
Traditional defined benefit pension plans are now replaced by the 401(k). This places more burden on the employee, and requires more education on the part of the employer. Further, medical benefits have evolved from one-size fits all plans to increasingly consumer-directed options.
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.
Reach employees using at least three forms of media. This includes web, printed material, and employee meetings or presentations. The more informed employees feel, the more in control they feel of their options.
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.
Benefits are valued by the employee, but it is up to management and HR professionals to provide education and guidance. After all, the time and expense to create a menu of benefits to choose from will go unappreciated if you don't make an effort to educate employees.
Furthermore, these briefings have a limited shelf life and are an effort you need to renew time and time again. Fortunately, each of your carriers and 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.
By ensuring that employees feel valued and educated, you can help boost enrollment, employee engagement, and performance.