As a follow up to my Aug. 19 post about associations offering voluntary benefits to their members, I thought it would be wise think about benefits for association employees.
I’ll mention it again: With extensive media coverage of the Affordable Care Act, benefits are on everyone’s mind. In fact, just the other day while I was grocery shopping, two women were discussing their benefits while they compared the price of cheese.
It’s true that larger organizations can generally provide better – and more comprehensive – health care benefits. But according to a rather surprising Unum survey conducted recently, most employees don’t know or understand the benefits they have.
And employers are at fault, the study found. Surveying 1,521 working adults, it revealed that employee satisfaction with their workplaces and benefits is at its lowest since 2008.
Conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Unum, an insurance provider, only 49 percent of workers indicated their places of employment are good places to work, while only 47 percent ranked their benefits as good.
But here’s the kicker: The research also showed that employees don’t feel they’re getting adequate information about their benefits. In the survey, only 33 percent of employees rated the benefits education they received as excellent or very good – a drop from 2012 and a reversal to the upward trend in ratings since 2009.
So why does this matter? Associations generally operate with small staffs, so it’s important that your employees are happy, and the survey found a correlation between good benefits education and employee happiness. In other words, an informed employee is a productive employee.
In addition, according to the survey, 79 percent of workers who reviewed benefits in the past year and rated their education as excellent or very good also rate their employer as excellent or very good – compared to only 30 percent of those who said the education they received was fair or poor.
“This research underscores the value of an effective benefits education plan because when an employee understands their benefits, they tend to value them more and in turn may then value their employers more for providing access to them,” said Bill Dalicandro, vice president of the consumer solutions group at Unum.
It doesn’t matter how large or small your organization is, chances are, a dedicated staff person handles human resources. That person should be responsible for providing such an education.
How? Rapid Learning Institute shared some tips in a recent blog post. It suggests offering materials for various learning types: printed materials and videos for visual learners; podcasts and audio conferences for auditory learners; and interactive online tools or worksheets for tactile learners.
The most common way to educate continues to be printed materials, the institute said, but emails, social media and internal messaging systems also work well.
Or consider hosting educational benefit sessions throughout the year. Have a little-known perk? A tax tip? Communicate with your employees on a regular basis.