Communicating wellness success

Wellness programs are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace. But problem is, a lot of employees don’t know about them. That’s because communication regarding benefits isn’t nearly as strong as it should be, Colonial Life reports.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 60 percent of employers offer a wellness program, and another 8 percent of companies plan to offer one within the next 12 months. The growing popularity of wellness programs bodes well for the health of our country’s work force—but only if employees take advantage of them.

“Employers today are more interested than ever in offering wellness programs to their employees,” says Randy Horn, president and CEO of Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Co. “They’re looking for ways to help offset the rising cost of providing health care coverage to employees, and they want to attract and retain a quality work force as well. But merely offering a wellness program won’t necessarily get employees engaged — you have to communicate well and often.”

Employers can work with a benefits carrier that offers face-to-face communication as part of its enrollment services to help spread the word about their wellness benefits, Colonial Life suggests.  Tools such as benefits statements and salary illustrations can help employees understand the value of the services provided. But a sit-down, face-to-face session with a benefits counselor can help employees develop an even better awareness and appreciation of a company wellness program.

“Don’t underestimate the value of personal, individualized benefits communication in today’s workplace,” Horn says. “The increasing responsibility employees have for making decisions about their benefits makes good communication more important than ever.  Employers that use a carrier that offers this service at no charge as part of its enrollment process will find a more satisfied and engaged workforce.” 

The perception among employers is their work force knows very little about their benefits.  In fact, less than 19 percent of employers think their employees have a very good understanding of their benefits. And nearly 5 percent think their employees know nothing at all about their benefits, Colonial Life reports.

A Harvard Business Review survey sponsored by Unum points out the need for improved benefits communication. In a 2010 survey of HR leaders, 43 percent say their employees are satisfied with their benefits, but considerably fewer (30 percent) say the same about their benefits communication.  In fact, 23 percent of them say their employees view their benefits communication as weak.

“Employers shouldn’t let poor communications impact their investment in a company wellness program,” Horn says. “They can complement the work that’s being done by HR departments and others in the company by adding one-to-one benefits communication to their toolbox.”

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