Employees don’t understand benefits because most aren’t reading communication materials, says IFEBP

Only 19 percent of employers report that their employees have a high level of understanding their benefits, according to recent research from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP). According to the IFEBP’s Benefits Communication Survey Results, the reason employers say benefits understanding is so low is because most participants do not open/read communication materials (80 percent of employers reported this), almost half do not understand the materials, and participants do not perceive value in their benefits (31 percent).

Even though employees seem to not understand or to care about their benefits, the survey found that educating employees about their benefits is a high priority for 65 percent of organizations. Nearly two in five organizations have budgets specifically devoted to benefits communication and 25 percent plan to increase those budgets in 2016.

Currently, most employers use the following communication platforms to communicate employee benefits: educational materials printed and mailed to homes (89 percent); email (73 percent); printed materials distributed onsite (69 percent); internal websites (66 percent); and external websites (58 percent). Less than half of organizations use nontraditional communication platforms like video (29 percent), social media (23 percent), texts (10 percent), robocalls (9 percent) or games (7 percent).

To further promote benefits education within their organization, IFEBP found that employers are examining different delivery methods for communication materials and finding the highest success rates with:

• Communicating by life stage (parental leave, retirement planning, etc.)–81 percent success;
• Year-round communication–79 percent success;
• Leveraging word of mouth by relying on their own employees to help spread the word–75 percent success;
• Communicating in multiple languages—74 percent success; and
• Simplifying complicated benefits content—72 percent success.

Moving forward, the top organizational goals for benefits communication are helping participants better understand and use their benefits (89 percent), getting individuals to understand the value of benefits (52 percent) and helping participants make smarter personal health and/or finance decisions (49 percent).

“Benefits are a vital part of employees’ lives, in and out of the workplace,” said Julie Stich, CEBS, research director at IFEBP. “It’s crucial that employees understand both their value and how they work. Employers see the need to simplify complicated benefits content, and to communicate in different languages and to multiple generations.”

SOURCE: www.ifebp.org

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