Just a fifth (21 per cent) of employees say they have a good understanding of all the health and wellbeing benefits they’re offered, yet employers think their programmes are well understood, research by life insurance body Group Risk Development (Grid) has found.
The research also indicates that most employers vastly over-estimate engagement and understanding levels. Almost six out of 10 (57 per cent) of employers say their staff are fully aware and fully understand the employee benefits available.
The research found only one in four (27 per cent) of employers say they improved communications about staff benefits in the last 12 months. However, only 16 per cent of employees said they thought their employer had improved their communications to staff about this issue over this period.
Grid says improved communication is needed to bridge this knowledge gap. But again their appears to be a disconnect between what employers are doing and how this is perceived by their staff.
Grid found that the most popular method used by employers to communicate employee benefits is via email (39 per cent), followed by staff welcome packs (31 per cent) and staff handbooks (28 per cent). However, Grid suggests that employers would benefit from making use of a broader range of channels and mediums to increase engagement. Only 12 per cent of employers said they communicate benefits at promotional fairs or drop-in sessions, just 14 percent do so by total reward statements and 16 per cent via post to a home address.
Grid spokesperson Katharine Moxham says: “There is a clear disconnect between how well employees understand their benefits in practice, and what employers believe. The answer probably lies in communication: good communication is likely to lead to better awareness, understanding and engagement.”
She adds: “The communication of benefits is not a once and done, it is a rolling activity that needs constant consideration and energy to achieve results, otherwise the risk is that employees stop listening.
“Employers would do well to discuss possible strategies with their benefits providers and advisers: they will have experience about which approach is most effective in different workplace environments and for different cohorts of staff.”
Moxham adds: “Employers should be loud and proud of the benefits they offer their staff. They need to communicate in a way that works, utilise a mix of channels, and to communicate regularly.
“Creating a buzz around the support available means staff will be much more aware of what is on offer and allows staff to get a deeper understanding of the benefits they receive and really engage with them.”