Research shows that just over half of employers think that their workforce are aware of and understand all the benefits on offer to them.
A new survey by GRiD, an industry body for group risk, shows that only 57 per cent of employers think that their employees are aware of and understand all the benefits contained in their benefit package.
Almost three in 10 employers (28 per cent) responded that their workforce is aware of all of the benefits but does not understand all of them. Furthermore, one in 10 (10 per cent) employers think that their staff is only aware of some benefits, as opposed to all of them.
In addition to this, almost four in 10 employees (35 per cent) have stated that their company does not communicate benefits or do not remember whether they do.
Research suggests that this gap between employers and their workers is linked to the way benefit packages are communicated.
Only 38 per cent of employers inform their workers of a change in their benefits when it occurs. Just under three in 10 employers (29 per cent) inform candidates about the benefit package at recruitment stage. Around a fifth (21 per cent) communicate benefits once a year. Just under one in 10 managers (8 per cent) state that they do not communicate their benefits at all.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said:
A huge amount of resource, time, energy and money is invested in compiling employee benefits packages. This is maximised when a workforce is aware of the benefits and understands them.
We see people at some of the most vulnerable stages in their life in our industry: at times of ill-health, disability and bereavement. Circumstances that by their nature are often unforeseen. This is exactly why benefits that support such situations need to be communicated regularly, so they are front of mind when they are needed.
Most interestingly, there was a significant gap between how employers communicated benefits and how employees remembered them being communicated.
Around four out of 10 employers (38 per cent) saying that they communicate benefits using a staff welcome pack yet less than one-fifth (only 15 per cent) of employees remember this method being used. The next most popular method was a staff handbook with three in 10 employers opting for this method. Again, only 15 per cent of employees remembered this.
Miss. Moxham continued:
These findings are particularly pertinent given new legislation, which came into force 6 April this year requiring employers to inform employees about their employment and benefits on day one or on request.
But, in addition to complying with this, to increase engagement and for benefits to be utilised, they need to be understood, to which communication is central. Whether we’re talking about pensions, healthcare, employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection or critical illness, the approach needs to be the same. Employers need to tell their workforce what they’re offered, communicate via as many means as possible, and do so regularly.
The method of communication is particularly important for employers to consider in light of three-quarters stating that they are making changes to their benefit packages due to COVID-19.
*This research was undertaken by Opium on behalf of GRiD who surveyed 500 HR decision makers on 27-31 January 2020. They also surveyed 1165 employees between 24-28 January 2020.
Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.