How to help employees understand the value of their benefits

Boosting your benefits communication during lean times can help your organization retain good employees and ease their worries so they can focus on work. The key: Show employees the value of their benefits.

Consider four areas as you rev up your benefits communication strategy:

1. Add up costs. Employees rarely recognize the value of their benefits. As they gripe about paying higher health care deductibles, it’s unlikely that they know how much the organization kicks in so they don’t have to pay even more. Strategies to try:

  • Calculate the monetary worth of each benefit and share that info with employees. Include everything from free parking to wellness programs to medical and retirement benefits.
  • Point out the cost of benefits an employee didn’t use but could have, like adoption or tuition assistance.

2. Demonstrate value, encourage participation. Employees who don’t use their benefits probably don’t value them. They might appreciate your organization for building a child care center, but if they don’t have kids, the benefit has little value to them. Strategies to try:

  • Advertise all of your benefits—from health insurance to voluntary benefits to work/life perks.
  • Start an enrollment campaign for perks such as work/life and wellness. Those who partake will find them more valuable than those who don’t.
  • Offer a substantial prize to the employee who can correctly answer the most questions about your organization’s benefits. This will help reveal gaps in your communication efforts.

3. Tweak benefits offerings. Get rid of little-used benefits. Strategies to try:

  • Identify which benefits are most popular. Replace low-value benefits with higher-impact perks.
  • Study each benefit’s return on investment before dumping it. A little-used perk like adoption assistance, for example, may have a positive impact on employee morale and loyalty even though few workers use it.
  • Repackage existing benefits so employees understand how to use them to make their lives easier or save money.

4. Talk, talk, talk! Keep employees engaged by keeping them in the loop about your organization’s situation. Strategies to try:

  • Communicate with employees more often during tough times than you normally would.
  • Reinforce management’s vision for success and recovery.
  • Recognize employees for doing good work. Most employees say they value appreciation as much as money.
  • Be honest about the impact of the economy on employee benefits—and help them understand it. Tip: Bring in a financial advisor to help employees review retirement plans.

Get on the same page

In a study by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, employees gave high marks to employers that offered few benefits but explained them well. Those organizations scored better than companies with a slew of benefits that workers didn’t understand.

Employees who responded to a recent MetLife survey credited employee benefits for their loyalty to their employers.