New research has revealed that many UK small business workers are dissatisfied with their current employee benefits package, while a significant proportion aren’t even aware of any of the benefits available to them.
The YouGov research, released by employee benefits provider Unum, shows that nearly a fifth (18%) of workers are unhappy with the benefits they currently receive through their jobs. More worryingly, a quarter said they aren’t aware of what benefits are available to them.
Furthermore, 29% of employees said their employer does not understand what’s important when it comes to employee benefits – a revelation that should be cause for concern for employers due to the direct link between benefits and retaining the best talent.
Indeed, in the war for talent, employee benefits play a key role, with the research showing 29% of employees are not committed to their current job role and 10% are actively seeking new positions.
All of these findings come from Unum’s Workplace Communications Blueprint, which was compiled using the survey results of over 1,000 UK employees and a roundtable discussion with employee benefits and internal communications professionals, including representatives from Cass Business School, the Institute of Directors and the Civil Aviation Authority.
In addition to revealing the current UK employee benefits landscape, the Unum blueprint identifies five key areas for businesses to focus on:
- Go back to basics – measure benefits take-up, cost and return on investment, and survey employees to gain a better understanding of what you want your benefits to achieve
- Know your audience – learn about the motivations and behaviour of your workforce and package bundles of benefits for different segments
- Think external, act internal – engage with employees as you would customers or clients
- Don’t just communicate with employees, engage them – look to build trust through open, two-way dialogues by involving line managers and communicating across communications channels
- Create social norms – communicate benefits regularly and enable a culture in which talking about, signing up for and measuring benefits is typical behaviour.
The Crucial Role of HR and Line Managers
The Unum report also identifies the crucial part that can be played by the HR department and line managers when it comes to communicating and engaging employees with their benefits packages.
Individuals in these roles were identified as the best people to speak to about benefit options (39%), suggesting new benefits (30%) or providing information on current benefits (44%).
Unum’s Workplace Communications Blueprint is a progression of the benefits provider’s Money Talks research from 2014, produced in conjunction with Cass Business School.
The figures showed that UK companies who fail to effectively tell their staff what employee benefits they lose £2.7 billion every year, through increased staff turnover and sickness absence. For a typical company with 1000 employees, this equates to £470,000 every year.
Liz Walker, HR director at Unum, said: “For small businesses, investment in employee benefits represents a significant cost, when budgets are often tight. It is vital that these organisations ask their employees what they would value and appreciate before they do anything else.
“Both employees and consumers have an awful lot of information arriving at them from many different sources. So, businesses need to find a way to cut through that noise by offering relevant and engaging messages that reflect the needs, wants and motivations of its employees.”
The employee benefits package an employer puts in place must reflect not only what is relevant but also what their employees will value, The right communication programme must be put in place so that it complements what they are offering, which is why working with the right intermediary is so crucial.
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