Don't forget human touch in your benefits communication

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.