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Tactics that could help employees understand—and value—their benefits
While only two out of five U.S. workers would strongly recommend their organization as a “great place to work,” those who did so were three times more likely to be satisfied with their benefits, according to MetLife’s 11th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends.
The study was conducted in October 2012 and consisted of an employer sample (1,503 interviews with benefits decision-makers at companies with staff sizes of at least two employees) and an employee sample (1,422 interviews with full-time employees age 21 and over at companies with a minimum of two employees). Among the key takeaways:
“With many employees saying they would pay more for a wider range of voluntary benefits, employers have an opportunity to increase benefits satisfaction without increasing the bottom line,” said Anthony Nugent, MetLife executive vice president, speaking at the company’s National Benefits Symposium on March 18, 2013, in Washington, D.C., where the report was released.
Ensuring Effective Communications
Among the communication tactics that employees rated as most valuable were:
“While it is often not practical to customize plan design in this way, it is relatively easy to personalize and customize benefits communications to highlight features to appeal to different employee demographics,” Nugent observed.
Top 10 Communication Tactics
Employees who gave their companies a benefits communication grade of A or B cited the following as the most-valued benefits tactics.
Post-enrollment confirmation of benefits elections
Personalized messages and materials reflecting individual needs and/or life stages
Employer benefits website
Enrollment opportunities throughout the year (voluntary benefits)
Online decision-support tools (e.g., calculators, frequently asked questions or FAQs)
Suggested benefit actions and product options in response to a life event (e.g., birth, marriage)
Ongoing education about benefits after enrollment
MetLife’s 11th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends
Employees value Benefits Education
In a separate survey commissioned by Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Co. in late February 2013, employees don’t give their companies very high marks for the effectiveness of their benefits communication. Only 60 percent said it’s fairly or very effective, and 9 percent say it’s not at alleffective.
Not surprisingly, then, only about a third (32 percent) of individuals whose employers offer benefits said they’re very comfortable making decisions about the benefits available to them at work. Employees with total household income of less than $35,000 report struggling a bit more, with only 25 percent saying they’re very comfortable with benefits decision-making. They’re also much more likely than workers with household income of $50,000 or more to say they’re not at all comfortable: 12 percent compared to 3 percent, respectively.
Improved Benefits Communication
Employers can take several steps to help workers better understand their benefits, according to the Colonial Life survey. The top choices among options offered were:
Other changes employees said would help included having choices to customize the benefits package (59 percent), receiving benefits information more frequently (31 percent) and receiving benefits information that’s more personalized to their needs(30 percent).
The survey queried 2,111 U.S. adults age 18 and older employed full or part time about the benefits education available to them at work.
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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