Employers sometimes spend significant sums on the provision of an employee benefits package for their workforce. The rationale behind each and every benefit choice may differ from one employer to another, yet it is likely that each benefit is chosen to support, attract and retain staff and/or to assist the employer with a business aim (for instance absence reduction or succession planning). Of course the better employee benefits will benefit both the employer and the employee.
Yet despite the costs involved many organisations do not take the time to effectively communicate the value of the offering to their employees. Our survey published last year indicated that less than half of employers (49%) regularly undertook updates to their workers on the benefits offering. And where communications did happen more than 7 in 10 organisations relied on direct emails (43%) or the company Intranet / Notice board (30%) to update their employees. Such actions are an important step forward from the old days of little active communications, yet they do not go far enough in embedding the benefits package within the company culture.
So how to achieve this?
One approach that is consistently overlooked by employers is the role that line managers could – and perhaps should – take in the effective promotion of employee benefits. Most would accept that line managers are a key linkage in the communication of employer policies and procedures, and are better placed to identify problems “on the ground” than those in more isolated departments such as HR and Finance. So it follows that such individuals would be the ideal choice to champion the benefits offering and ensure that tools (such as those designed to tackle absence) are used at the earliest opportunity.
Yet few UK employers actively seek to up-skill line managers so that they can better understand and promote the benefits offering. When this oversight is coupled with the lack of overall communications already highlighted it is evident that many employers have a very long way to go to really maximise their return on their employee benefits costs.
So it follows that better communications – and in particular line manager training – should be a key objective of each and every organisation’s annual employee benefits review. In exchange for this relatively minor additional time commitment employers can expect to better engage employees with the benefits of offer whilst simultaneously unlocking more value for the sponsoring employer from the overall package costs.
So some significant potential wins for organisations of all sizes. Can any employer afford not to look at this issue afresh?
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