Time and Education Important to Employees During Open Enrollment

October 19, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - New research from Unum suggests that enough time and the right tools are the key ingredients to an effective benefits education plan.

The research shows that 97% of employees who had three-plus weeks to review their benefits education materials said it was enough time – but just 50% of respondents were given that much time. Those who had three or more weeks to enroll were more likely to rate their benefits and their benefits education as excellent or very good, compared to those with less than three weeks to enroll.   

In addition, 85% of employees with an excellent/very good benefits education rated their benefits package as excellent or very good, and 80% of employees who rated their benefits education highly also rated the employer as an excellent/very good place to work.   

“When employees have adequate time and the right tools to understand and choose their benefits, the payoff is powerful,” said Bill Dalicandro, vice president at Unum, in a press release. “The research shows that employees with an effective benefits education have higher levels of engagement, morale and loyalty.”

How to Communicate  

Results from the Unum research indicate offering at least three methods of communication is a critical part of the benefits education process.   

According to the study, 91% of employees that were asked to review benefits within the past year had accessed information made available to them. Printed materials, personalized statements, and employer-sponsored Intranet or Web site were among the most likely to be utilized when offered, with 68% of respondents each saying they utilized the information.  

Other popular forms of education methods used by employees include e-mail communications from employers, group and one-on-one meetings where benefits are presented and employees can ask questions, and online interactive tools.   

However, the study also reveals that employee access to printed materials and personal contact methods, such as group meetings to discuss benefits, remained significantly lower than 2008 levels.