Priorities within the benefits management community may be shifting. A survey of a small group of HR and benefits professionals found that, within this group, benefits communications with employees outranked lowering overall health plan costs as the top priority.

The survey was conducted by the National Business Coalition on Health and Benz Communications. Asked about how they prioritized and spent their time in 2013, 56 percent responded with "improving employees' understanding and perceived value of benefits." Priorities No. 2 and 3, at 47 percent, were lowering health plan costs and maintaining overall compliance.

Whether this communications emphasis was a general theme in 2013, and whether it will continue, couldn't be predicted by the survey. But the response could be significant, given the many surveys that suggest that communicating with employees about their benefits packages has too often failed.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.