Companies want to increase employee engagement with benefit programmes, but the majority are spending less than £5,000 a year on related communications.
Aon’s annual benefits and trends survey found that 98 per cent of employers say engagement and understanding benefits is important – but seven out of 10 (70 per cent) had a budget of less than £5,000 a year to communicate and explain what these benefits were worth.
Aside from increasing engagement, employers said better understanding of the total value of these employee benefits would help them retain staff, and aid recruitment.
This is the ninth year that Aon has conducted this survey of over 200 employers of all sizes and from a range of sectors, the majority of which are global firms.
Almost half (46 per cent) of respondents said they are willing to increase expenditure to improve benefit communications. The survey found 13 per cent of firms spend between £5,001 and £10,000 a year on benefit communications, 12 per cent spend between £10,000 and £20,000, with 5 per cent spending upwards of this each year.
Currently, employers largely use emails and posters for communication – cited by 97 per cent and 62 per cent of respondents respectively.
Face to face communications and webinars are becoming more popular, with the number of employers using these to explain benefit programmes rising from 2018 to 2019. In total 56 per cent of employers now use face-to-face communications (up from 45 per cent last year)and 32 per cent use webinars (up from 22 per in 2018).
There is also an emergence of digital marketing, such as app push notifications and personalised videos. Aon said that in total 44 per cent of communications is now digitally focused. Surprisingly, 30 per cent of respondents said they thought augmented virtual reality technology may have a role to play in promoting employee benefits in future.
Interestingly, more than half of companies surveyed (53 per cent) said they don’t segment their audience when communicating to employees. Those that do, tend only to segment by work location (40 per cent), which is unlikely to have much of an impact in terms of appealing to employees’ individual needs, rather than age, attitudes, or lifestage.
Aon’s senior communications consultant Sarah Robson says: “If you are putting money, time and resource into benefits and wellbeing it is important to make sure that employees know about them.
“Most companies say that understanding of and engagement with benefits is extremely or very important, yet the majority don’t put into practice communication techniques that could help programmes get better results through behaviour change.
“However, it is encouraging that more respondents are willing to increase their communication spend to help awareness in order that employees learn how their individual benefits can be of so much value. Plus we are starting to see more employers who are doing some exciting things – not least by using new technology and apps.”
She adds: “Just 3 per cent of employers tailor messages according to employee attitudinal factors and preferences, but it is hoped that this area will grow in the near future. Segmentation through data, analytics and insights can help communications to be smarter, more relevant and to have the biggest impact on engagement and behaviour change.”