Hard Times Drive Employers to Increase Benefit Education Efforts

September 24, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Tough economic conditions and a growing multigenerational work force are leading employers to focus on implementing targeted communication programs to better inform employees on the merits of their benefits offerings.

The Study of Employee Benefits: 2008 & Beyond, a new report released by Prudential Financial, Inc., plan sponsors indicated a 22-point increase (34% in 2008 versus 56% in 2013) as it relates to the importance of increasing employee education and helping employees understand how to make the best benefits choices, according to a press release. Respondents indicated tailoring communication and enrollment to meet the needs of various employee segments will increase in importance as well (24% in 2008 to 39% in 2013).

According to the study results, currently, only 21% of plan sponsors cite a multigenerational work force as highly important, and 27% cite an aging work force as highly important. However, the perceived importance of a multigenerational work force nearly doubles in five years among plan sponsors.

Other study findings, according to the press release, include:

  • Plan sponsors offer voluntary benefits more so for employee retention and satisfaction, rather than for cost savings. Roughly two in five companies offering voluntary benefits “strongly agree” that these programs have had a positive impact on employee satisfaction with their benefits programs overall. Nearly half (46%) of employers agree that offering voluntary benefits has helped to lower overall benefits costs, while 22% “strongly agree” that any cost savings have resulted.
  • Nearly one-third of plan sponsors (30%) say their Web technology budget increased in the past year, while nearly 60% say it remained steady. Only 2% reported a decrease in spending. This trend is expected to continue in the next five years, with half of employers anticipating a budget increase. While gaps exist between the importance of benefits Web technology objectives and actual performance in many areas, the greatest unmet expectation is the reduction of benefits administration costs. Sixty-four percent of employers believe reducing benefits administration costs to be “highly important”, while only 23% felt their needs in this area were “completely or mostly met”.
  • While many companies track basic absences, only about three in 10 report doing “a great deal” with respect to implementing a process that will improve workforce productivity. Among plan sponsors who are active in absence tracking, four in 10 feel that those efforts have been “highly effective”. Employers expect to increase their absence management and return-to-work activities by almost 50% over the next five years.

For a copy of the Study of Employee Benefits: 2008 and Beyond report, visit www.prudential.com/gi/.