In a 2016 survey by Employee Benefits magazine, the top reason cited by companies for offering employee benefits was to improve staff retention.

And yet 64% of employers who have invested in a large range of employee benefits, are failing to communicate these to staff1, which means they aren’t getting a return on their (not insignificant) investment.

The impact of not communicating your employee benefit package

Research by Cass Business School2 estimates that failing to tell staff about the benefits on offer is costing UK companies £2.7bn every year through increased staff turnover and sickness absence.

It showed that staff in workplaces that offer benefits, but who are not aware of their availability, are less likely to:

  • share the values of, and feel loyal to, their organisation
  • be proud to tell people who they work for
  • have a different (better) attitude than those working in companies that do not offer these benefits

In essence, offering benefits but not making your workforce aware of them is no better than not offering these benefits at all.

The research found that the worst culprits for not communicating employee benefits are:

  • non-union workplaces
  • SMEs with fewer than 50 employees
  • UK and EU-owned workplaces

The business value of communicating benefits

Employee benefits can only be seen as a perk by staff if they know about them and understand their value. Sharing details about the employee benefits you offer can:

  • increase the perceived value of your employee benefits at little or no extra cost
  • improve employee satisfaction levels (engagement, morale and loyalty)
  • provide an invaluable tool for staff retention
  • create a building block for your internal communications strategy

And contrary to popular belief, if your employees are aware of benefits – such as private health insurance or Income Protection – they are not likely to take more time off sick. Cass’ research shows that communicating about a wide range of employee benefits actually builds employee engagement and a more loyal workforce that takes less time off sick.

How to communicate your employee benefits

A good benefits package, communicated well, can help to manage - and reduce - bottom line costs, and help to build a loyal and more productive workforce.

Which method you use will depend on your company. It’s really a case of trying a few and seeing what works for you. You could even survey your employees before and after the communication to see whether it’s had an effect on their understanding of the benefits on offer.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • company-wide emails
  • company-wide presentations
  • individual sessions with staff
  • via a company handbook
  • via a dedicated employee benefits microsite/company intranet
  • on noticeboards

When to communicate your employee benefits

So you’ve decided how you want to communicate your benefits package, but when’s the best time to approach staff? Here are a few opportunities:

  • with candidates during the recruitment process
  • at inductions with new employees
  • during staff appraisals, reviews or promotions
  • at team or all staff briefings
  • when staff enter a new life stage – e.g. become home-owners, get married or have children
1,2 Money Talks: communicating employee benefits report. Cass Business School on behalf of Unum, 2013