New research from GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector, reveals a significant gap in employee awareness and understanding of benefits offered by their employers.

A third (34%) of UK employers report that their staff are neither aware of nor understand the full range of benefits available to them, which includes pensions, healthcare, and group risk benefits like life assurance, income protection, and critical illness cover.

This lack of awareness is echoed among employees themselves. Only 44% believe they have a good understanding of the health and wellbeing benefits available to them. This gap in knowledge means many employees may not fully utilise the benefits provided by their employers when they are needed most.

Despite this, 78% of employers actively encourage their staff to use the benefits available, while 18% leave it to employees to initiate the take-up of benefits themselves. GRiD suggests that ineffective communication of benefits represents a missed opportunity for both employees and employers, as the investment in these benefits is not fully appreciated or utilised.

Communication Methods for Employee Benefits

The research identifies various methods used by employers to communicate employee benefits. The most popular method is including information in a staff welcome pack (35%), followed closely by discussing benefits on the first day of employment (33%). Other methods include:

  • 31% include benefits information in the staff handbook
  • 29% use staff noticeboards
  • 29% utilise email campaigns
  • 28% use the company’s intranet
  • 26% organise promotional days with support from advisers or providers

On average, employers use four different channels to communicate their benefits programme. However, GRiD believes that most employers could do more and that communication should be an ongoing effort rather than a one-off exercise. They also suggest leveraging resources from partners, providers, advisers, and employee liaison groups.

Plans for Improved Communication

Looking ahead, many employers plan to enhance the way they communicate benefits over the next 12 months:

  • 39% intend to increase encouragement for staff to use available benefits
  • 36% plan to put more emphasis on supporting all areas of health and wellbeing, including mental, financial, physical, and social health
  • 34% aim to increase the amount of communication
  • 31% will increase their investment in this area

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, emphasised the importance of continuous improvement in benefits communication. “An organisation’s workforce is not static; new employees join, others leave, and some return from absence. Employers who feel they are doing well cannot rest on their laurels. It is crucial to continually improve communication so all employees know how to access and utilise their benefits. Only then will these benefits be truly valued and appreciated.”

The Importance of Communication

Effective communication of employee benefits is vital for fostering a loyal and engaged workforce. Whether or not employees choose to engage with the benefits offered, knowing that their employer is proactive about providing support can improve their overall disposition towards the organisation.

GRiD’s research highlights the need for employers to make communicating employee benefits a regular habit. This will ensure that employees are well-informed and can fully appreciate the support available to them, ultimately leading to a more satisfied and productive workforce.