Less than a third (31%) of employees have a good understanding of full benefits provided

Confused African-American businesswoman in casual shirt sitting at the desk in front of laptop and spreading hands, mixed-race female office employee has issue with project, computer error

A perennial challenge which, at Make A Difference, employers often tell us they’re grappling with, is how to ensure all colleagues know what wellbeing support and benefits are available and how they can access them at times of need. Our recent breakfast roundtable sponsored by YuLife also highlighted increasing demand for a single wellbeing hub where benefits are grouped together for easy access.

These insights are reflected in recent research conducted by Towergate Health & Protection which suggests that less than a third (31%) of employers believe that most of their employees have a good understanding of the full range of benefits provided in their workplace.

The research was carried out among 500 HR decision makers earlier this year, across UK companies of all sizes, from all industries. It shows that communication of benefits needs improvement on a widespread basis. With changing employee needs and evolving support options, it is vital that all employees are made aware of, and kept up to date with, the full range of benefits on offer.

Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, says: 

“An employee may have awareness of the benefits that interest them now but if their circumstances change, they may not know how to access the best support. For example, they may not take notice of the mental health support in place as they don’t feel it applies to them. If the situation suddenly changes, and they have a mental health crisis, they won’t know where to find crucial help.”

Positive for some

However, it is not all bad news. The research showed positive results with more than two-thirds (68%) of employers stating that most of their employees have a good understanding of at least some of the range of benefits provided.

Clearly then the messages are getting through in some cases and employers should consider why this is not the same universally. They may be giving too much emphasis to some areas of support or relying on just one or two methods of communication. Employees will have different ways of assimilating information, with some preferring in-person communications, while others favour written or online messages. So employers must implement a wide range of communication methods. It is also important to ensure that messages are regularly conveyed, so that the details are fresh in the mind of the employee and easily to hand at the time when they are needed.

Consider communication up front

Communication of benefits does not have to be left entirely to the employer: the benefits provider, supplier and intermediary can all also help. In addition, how the support will be communicated needs to be considered at the same time as choosing which benefits to offer. There are now platforms available which ensure all health and wellbeing support can be accessed easily from one place, and the employer can also be kept up to date with utilisation rates. Such platforms can have communication methods built in and help to ensure regular and widespread interactions and engagement.

Debra Clark says: 

“If employers are investing in health and wellbeing support, then it is vital that they also invest in the communication of this support. A company can offer the best benefits in the industry, but if the employees are not aware of them, then neither they, nor the business will reap the rewards. How support will be communicated should be considered upfront as part of the process of selecting benefits.”

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