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Don’t forget human touch in your benefits communication

By Jared Bilski | HR Morning

There are plenty of technological innovations in the world of benefits services and communications, but HR pros should never forget the importance of old-fashioned human interaction.

That’s one of the main takeaways from a recent Health Advocate study that was part of the whitepaper titled “Striking a Healthy Balance: What Employees Really Want Out of Workplace Benefits Communication.”

Cost, wellness, personal issues and care

The study broke down employees’ preferred methods of benefits communications in a number of areas. (Note: Employees could select more than one answer.)

When asked how they preferred to receive health cost & administrative info, the report found:

  • 73% of employees said directly with a person by phone
  • 69% said via a website/online portal, and
  • 56% preferred an in-person conversation.

Regarding their wellness benefits:

  • 71% of employees preferred to receive the info through a website/online portal
  • 62% said directly with a person by phone, and
  • 56% preferred an in-person conversation.

In terms of personal/emotional wellness issues:

  • 71% of employees preferred to receive the info directly with a person by phone
  • 65% preferred an in-person conversation, and
  • 60% would most like to receive the info via a website/online portal.

Finally, when it came to managing chronic conditions:

  • 66% of employees preferred to receive the info directly with a person by phone
  • 63% would most like to receive the info via a website/online portal, and
  • 61% preferred an in-person conversation.

HR says this, but staffers say …

On top of personal benefits communication, employees want more frequent education. In fact, the top complaint (cited by 41% of employees) about their employers’ benefits was too infrequent communication, the study found.

The report also found a significant disconnect between how often HR and benefits managers say they communicate with employees about benefits and how often workers say they’re actually receiving info.

For example, 28% of HR managers said their health and benefits communication takes place on a weekly basis, but just 4% of employees said they received weekly communications.

Here’s the rest of the breakdown on benefits communication frequency:

  • Just 13% of HR managers said they only communicate health and benefits info annually, biannually or once during onboarding (compared to 47% of employees)
  • Twenty-six percent of HR managers said they communicate on a quarterly basis (and 27% of employees said this as well), and

Nearly a third (31%) of HR managers said they offered monthly communication, compared to just 17% of employees.