Benefits Need to Be Communicated Year-Round

By making workers aware of health and financial benefits, employers can make their workforce more engaged and productive—and avoid costly expenses.

Most employers inform their workforce about their health, retirement and financial wellness benefits once a year—at open enrollment, Benz Communications maintains in its report, “The Value of Investing in Benefits Communication.” The problem with that is people encounter personal, health or financial crises at unexpected times outside that narrow window.

Should a worker not be able to address a problem with the resources available from his or her employer, they can easily become more distracted and less productive at work, Benz says. If it is a health-related issue, the employer will have to bear those costs. Or, if it results in workers not being able to retire at the appropriate time, the employer has to grapple with workforce issues and the higher cost of insuring older people.

While employers may not give benefits communication much thought, it is something that advisers can bring to their attention, Benz says. Citing data from Quantum Workplace and Limeade, Benz notes that 38% of employees who believe that their employer cares about their health and well-being are more engaged. Seventeen percent say they are more likely to continue working at their employer in a year’s time, and 28% say they would recommend their employer to a family member or acquaintance.

Conversely, Benz says, Gallup data indicates that disengaged employees cost U.S. companies $450 billion to $550 billion a year in lost productivity—and in 2015, only 32% of workers said they were engaged with their jobs.

To reach people throughout the year, employers need to develop a website devoted to their benefits program and make the information also accessible via smartphone, tablets and social media, Benz says. Employers also need to develop a year-round calendar for communications: “Tips, reminders and updates sprinkled throughout the year in bite-size chunks to employees and their families,” the report states.

According to the report, electronic delivery should not be the only communications channel. Employers should use postcards, posters, flyers, as well as blogs and text messaging. Then, to see what is resonating among its employee base, employers should examine web traffic and email open and click-through rates.

Benz says that with an effective benefits communications strategy, employers could even migrate their workforces to high-deductible health plans with little pushback—and that they will find their employees’ productivity rises substantially.

In conclusion, the report says, “Employees are the source of all productivity and growth. They deserve communication that helps them better understand their benefits so they can get the most out of your key programs. Ultimately, this will drive better health and financial security for everyone.”