The Benefits of Communicating with Employees

Founded in 1998, Group Risk Development (GRiD) aims to promote and enhance the status and uptake of corporate group protection benefits on behalf of its members within the UK insurance, reinsurance and adviser markets.

GRiD has conducted regular employer research since 2009 and the purpose of the 2019 survey is to drill down and ask employers what they are thinking and doing in relation to looking after their staff, especially since this is what Government is now expecting from them. In this survey, GRiD surveyed 500 HR decision makers in 500 UK businesses, including 100 in companies with more than 250 employees.

Benefits of Communication in the Workplace

Rewarding and motivating staff through ways such as celebrations and training are very visible, can give immediate gratification, and will be appreciated by certain sections of the workforce.

However, many employers realise that longer-term benefits, can have an even wider appeal and longer lasting effect. It’s particularly important to show how different benefits can address specific needs that staff may have according to their age, life-stage and lifestyle.

Employers monetary spend across all benefits including things such as Pension, Medical Insurance and Group Risk Insurances to name a few, is not usually insignificant and therefore employers need to ensure that staff understand and more importantly appreciate what they have.

For example, group risk benefits often provide access to an employee assistance programme as standard that can provide advice that the whole workforce can benefit from, such as on moving to a new house, probate, flooding, parking tickets and disputes with neighbours. This kind of support can be greatly valued by staff and it helps to improve productivity by alleviating distractions.

However, how does an employer get this message out to staff?

Communication Survey Results

HR decision makers told GRiD’s survey that they use a variety of means to communicate their employee benefits package. Based on the results of GRiD’s recent survey, the communication methods most used are:

• Staff welcome pack – 31%
• Email – 28%
• Staff handbook – 25%
• Employment offer letter – 22%
• Total Reward Statements – 11%
• Benefit platforms/apps – 10%

Worryingly, ONLY 25% of employers issue regular communications (at least quarterly) about their benefits.

Communication is key to getting good value out of any benefit spend but what is the best way to communicate to a workforce? Unfortunately, there is no magic spell that will work for all employers therefore using a mix of methods is most effective and more importantly, communication must be on a regular basis. This is especially true of group risk benefits when they are not needed until something changes for an employee and then they are needed.

It is also vital that employees, HR and line managers are aware of all the embedded help that comes with a group risk product and how to use it to best effect.

Wingate Benefit Solutions work with employers of all different shapes and sizes to help with the design and implementation of the most optimum communication strategy. This could include such methods as face to face staff presentations, easy to read benefit guides, total reward statements and the ever-growing popularity of online benefit platforms. Should the topic of communications be something that you wish discuss, please feel free to contact Wingate.

Keep It Simple Stupid

Let’s be honest, pensions are not the most exciting subject in the world but we probably all acknowledge that they are very important. I have been to many a party, night out etc and have been chatting to people about everything and nothing when the old, ‘What do you do for a living?’ question comes up. In my mind, I want to say ‘dolphin trainer’ or ‘lion tamer’, but the words ‘I’m a Pension Adviser’ just comes blurting out and funnily enough I am left standing on my own…

The lack of excitement around pensions is not helped by the way that pension providers give information to consumers. Often we receive our annual pension statement through the post in the form of a big pack and if we are lucky, we’ll read the first page, maybe the second and simply file it in our dusty old pension file where the last 10 years annual statements are all stored. We all have the best intentions of reviewing our pension/s one day but that day tends to happen when it’s a little too late and retirement is looming leaving us with little time to take any remedial action on the value of our pension.

A recent government Automatic Enrolment review has found that less than 14% of people read and understand their annual statements and this represents a “missed opportunity” for the industry to engage and educate savers. As a result, the Pensions Minister has suggested a new simplified two-page annual pension’s statement in a bid to provide a best practice template for the industry. The proposed simpler annual statement consists of just two sides of A4 paper and includes the information that matters most to people saving for retirement. It clearly signposts to other detailed information that can sit separately on an insurance company website. This reflects legal requirements and can be amended by providers using their own branding. The simpler annual pension statement is available to view at the following link https://www.plsa.co.uk/Policy-and-Research/Document-library/Simpler-annual-pension-statement

Whilst this is a good step forward, there is still a long was to go to raise the profile of pensions. It seems as though the balance of responsibility is moving away from the government and some of this responsibility sits with the employer to help with pension education.

Even if staff are not actively engaged with pensions, spending 30 minutes a year to understanding whether your investment is right for you, understanding what you are on track to receive from your pension and the state pension and how to make up any shortfall, is not an overly onerous commitment but it’s hugely important and beneficial.

Wingate Benefit Solutions has designed a pension employee engagement service for employers to try and de-jargonise pensions for employees (just like the proposed new statements) with a view to getting staff engaged with pensions and planning their futures. If you a looking to understand how pension education can help increase employee appreciation of the provided pension arrangement leading to greater staff retention and engagement, please do not hesitate to contact us.