Employee benefits are an essential tool in attracting and maintaining a motivated and loyal work force. If the employees aren’t fully aware of all the benefits available to them, much of the time and effort employers spend to select those benefits is negated.
First, there are the legal requirements. Most employers are familiar with the communications mandated by COBRA, HIPAA,and other federal and state laws, but just as important is keeping employees regularly informed about what the benefits mean to them and at what cost. Too often, employers will simply hand out a ‘benefits booklet’ once a year when the new plan takes affect. Studies show that about half of employees just skim those booklets. Communications-savvy companies are finding a variety of ways to provide more timely information targeted to the employees’ needs.
Strategic communications are so important. It takes forethought and planning, but can pay big dividends in employee knowledge and morale.
The majority of employees underestimate the total cost of their benefits package and overestimate their cost share. Employers should share information about the total cost of benefits with employees. It’s often called ‘the hidden paycheck,’ the amount employers pay for benefits, yet employees don’t know about it. That can be 20 percent to 40 percent of their total compensation. Also, reminders about how to most effectively access and use benefits are essential. For instance if you have a wellness plan that pays for a free annual checkup, remind employees about it.
Healthy employees are more productive. You can also communicate various ways that employees can better maintain a healthful lifestyle.