Many Employers Missing Key Opportunities To Use Benefits Communication To Improve Benefits Program Success

Given the combined pressures of health care reform, an unsettled economy, and an unhealthy and financially unstable workforce, HR professionals are increasingly looking to benefits communication to motivate behavior change among employees and families, and help manage costs, according to Benz Communications’ Inside Benefits Communication survey.

“This is a critical time for employee benefits, and a time of significant change and opportunity for employers. We undertook this survey to learn how HR and benefits professionals are communicating benefits in this rapidly changing and high-pressure environment. The results provide insight into what successful HR and benefits teams are doing—and what all organizations can do to get the most value from benefits and their communication efforts to support their employees and their organizations,” stated Jennifer Benz, Benz Communications’ founder and chief executive officer.

Key findings from the survey include the following:

    • Seventy-eight percent of employers cite getting employees engaged year-round among their biggest challenges, yet less than a third (28.9 percent) are communicating with employees year-round.
    • Despite more than half of respondents (55.6 percent) reporting that the effectiveness of their benefits communication efforts has improved during the last three years, nearly half (45.4 percent) are not satisfied with their current communications strategy and an additional 28 percent are ambivalent.
    • Employers’ top goals include executing a successful annual enrollment (60 percent), increasing workers’ use of preventive care (48 percent), and increasing employees’ 401(k) savings. Fewer than a quarter (24 percent) report meeting these goals last year; 18.8 percent are not sure.
    • Fewer than a quarter (24.2 percent) are connecting their benefits strategy to their company’s bigger business strategy; less than half (46.9 percent) try.
    • More than half (54.6 percent) do not document their benefits communication strategy. And 41 percent state they are not sure if their benefits communication efforts are helping them meet their goals.
    • More than two-thirds (68.3 percent) report budgets of less than $25,000 for benefits communication; 10.1 percent report budgets between $25,000 and $75,000. The majority of these budgets aren’t being spent strategically. For example, two-thirds (66 percent) report print and postage costs (one-time non-renewable expenses) as consuming most of their budget.

“Overall, the results of the Inside Benefits Communication survey reveals that companies are missing a huge opportunity to improve the success of their benefits programs and use their benefits communications to meet their larger strategic goals,” Benz concluded.

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