Workers need better benefits communication

By BenefitsPro

By Amanda McGrory-Dixon

While 60 percent of American workers say their benefits communications are fairly or very effective, 9 percent say it is not at all effective, according to a recent survey by Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Co.

Only 32 percent of respondents report feeling comfortable making employer-sponsored work decisions. Among respondents with household incomes of less than $35,000, just 25 percent of respondents say they feel comfortable making benefits decisions while 12 percent say they are not at all comfortable.

The overwhelming majority of respondents say it’s at least somewhat important to understand employer-sponsored benefits at 98 percent, and 73 percent of respondents say it’s very important. Another 97 percent of respondents say having financial protection is at least somewhat important while 67 percent of respondents say it is very important.

When it comes to having choices, 95 percent of respondents say it’s at least somewhat important, and 50 percent of respondents say it’s very important. Similarly, 95 percent of respondents say receiving consistent updates on benefits is at least somewhat important, and 53 percent of respondent say it is very important. While 90 percent of respondent agree talking face-to-face with a benefits expert is at least somewhat important, 46 percent of respondents say it’s very important.

“Clearly, employees want access to information and understand the importance of their employer-provided benefits in protecting their families’ financial well-being,” says Steve Bygott, assistant vice president of marketing analysis and programs at Colonial Life. “These survey results don’t surprise us, but they send an important message employers need to hear if they want to get the most out of their costly benefits investment.”

To help employees improve their understanding of benefits, 38 percent of respondents say employers should provide benefits information that is accessible at home or work. Meanwhile, 37 percent of respondents say communicating easily understood benefits information would enhance their knowledge. Another 34 percent of respondents say allowing employers to speak with a benefits expert on company time would be beneficial.

“Individual, face-to-face benefits counseling has been shown in other surveys to improve employees’ understanding of their benefits,” Bygott says. “And among those who participate in such as session, they’re nearly unanimous in believing it was valuable to them.”

Additionally, 31 percent of respondents would like to receive benefits information more often, and 30 percent of respondents want more personalized information.

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