Employees Want Custom Benefits Communication

A disconnect between what workers want and what employers provide in tailored benefits communications.

Workers on either end of the employment spectrum want custom communications that speak to their benefit concerns, a survey found.

Employees entering the workforce and those near retirement need tailored communications to optimize workplace benefits, according to a Guardian Life Insurance Company of America survey. Findings from the third annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study highlight the personal and financial needs of employees at different stages of their careers, and how education and enrollment play a role in their decision-making.

Those employees just starting their careers and those nearing retirement have distinct financial needs. Early entrants—those in the first five years of their working lives—want more choice and education delivered via the workplace. In contrast, near-retirees—within five years of retirement—value their benefits and worry about losing them in retirement. 

Early entrants expressed a strong desire for financial education and guidance about their benefits decisions to help them focus on immediate financial needs: paying bills, job security, work/life balance and reducing debt. Nearly two-thirds of these younger workers believe that buying insurance and saving for retirement through their employer is easier than doing it on their own, and 56% prefer learning about financial planning and products at work, compared with 44% of those near retirement. This group is looking to the workplace to help them develop healthy financial habits.

NEXT: Finances and adequate health insurance are concerns of near-retirees.

Near-retirees are most concerned about their finances and health in retirement: maintaining adequate health insurance, having a comfortable retirement, staying healthy and having sufficient savings. While 93% of respondents in this age group say it is important to have retirement savings that lasts as long as needed, only 62% state they have achieved this. This group craves more information to optimize benefit packages so they can meet their upcoming lifestyle changes.

“Benefit education and communications solutions can’t be one-size-fits-all, but must be clear, relevant, and personalized to different populations within the workplace in order to be successful,” says Ray Marra, senior vice president, group products at Guardian.

While all employees find tailored benefits communications and support valuable, six in 10 say their benefits meetings would be more relevant if they were targeted by age. Those within the first five years of working feel they need more personal advice during enrollment. If employers increase access to education and advice, it may benefit the nearly seven in 10 early entrants who say finding a trusted source of financial advice is highly important. Unfortunately, just 33% of employers place high importance on tailored communications, and a scant 13% have implemented such an approach.

“Our research reveals that employers are demonstrating a renewed focus on improving employee satisfaction,” Marra says, noting that the firm has seen an increased interest from employers for support services as more of them look for customized education materials, enrollment technology solutions and personal services. Making available benefits counselors and an employee benefits hotline can help employees make the best benefits choices for their current situation, according to Marra.

The Guardian Workplace Benefits Study is available on firm’s website.