Research revealed from GRiD shows that only a quarter (25%) of employers make a point of issuing regular communication on their benefits package. 22% do so just once a year. Others use specific events as a prompt: for instance, 36% will communicate benefits when there’s a change in the terms and conditions, such as if pension contributions or terms of cover are set to change. 29% will do so at performance reviews.
GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness) warns that this isn’t enough.
It’s understandable that employers use key events to communicate their benefits, but what an employer sees as a key event may not coincide with what an employee sees as a key event.
Illness, disability, injury, death, bereavement, are all largely unpredictable in nature so can affect an employee at any time. The support that can be offered by employee benefits, such as group risk, can be necessary any day of the year. It’s all too easy for an employee to forget about any available support if it wasn’t relevant at the time they were told about it. It’s crucial that benefits are communicated regularly so that when they are needed, they’re front of mind.
Likewise, some benefits are more relevant to people depending on their life stage. Some benefits will resonate more depending on an employee’s financial situation or whether they have dependants. Employees whose eyes glazed over at the mention of retirement planning, health and wellbeing benefits or life assurance may suddenly be much more attentive when it’s relevant to their stage of life.
Further, some benefits can be utilised daily, at no extra cost, so it makes sense to communicate them regularly and encourage their use. For example, many group risk benefits come with an employee assistance programme, early intervention support for health and wellbeing, access to counselling, and legal support for issues such as neighbour disputes and parking fines. Frequent communication of such benefits encourages utilisation and gives more value to both employer and employee.
Few employee benefits can be utilised every day, even if a claim is never made, at no extra cost to the employer or employee. To capture employees’ attention at a time when they can make use of them, it’s important that they’re communicated regularly. Once a few employees get value they soon start telling colleagues, engagement then snowballs, as does the value.
Katharine Moxham is the spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD), a position she’s held exclusively since May 2009. Katharine regularly contributes to industry and business publications and debate and has actively raised the profile of the group risk industry with the media and business organisations.