Canadian Employers See Benefit Communication Breakdown

September 4, 2003 ( - While Canadian employers are at a consensus that regular employee benefit communication is important, many have not yet implemented an effective communiqué program.

More than nine out of 10 (92%) Canadian employers surveyed cited the importance of employee understanding of the benefits and pension programs available to them, yet only 41% agreed their employees would say the communication about these benefits was clear and easy to understand. This came as nearly all (96%) Canadian employers polled agree that it was important to gather regular employee feedback, yet only 24% had a mechanism for soliciting or collecting this feedback, according to Morneau Sobeco’s Communication Survey.

Clarity might be found with an increased focus on the overall impact of benefit programs. However, only 38% of Canadian employers admit they report benefit information in the context of total rewards, even though 84% thought this was important.

Further, the medium by which the information is presented, and by whom, apparently is very important, yet under utilized. W hile 61% of employers agreed it was important to offer employees interactive communication tools, only 41% agreed they are making more use of these tools. Similarly, 62% said managers have an important role in effective communication of employee benefit programs, however, only 37% agreed their managers currently play an active role in communicating their programs effectively.

Some of the problem could be traced back to simple regular communication, something 90% of employers said was at least somewhat important to schedule, but only implemented by a mere fraction of that total (36%). Morneau though say it is not that employers do not want to communicate effectively. Instead, they are faced with competing demands on their time and resources, which makes it difficult for them to invest in and deliver effective strategic communication programs over the long-term. The end result is that many initiatives begin but few are sustained successfully.