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Survey highlights how benefits can really miss the mark

Sarah Robson
wellness

New research from says that engagement continues to be the main reason employers want to increase employee understanding of total reward – but little budget is allocated to support communication and behaviour change. Contributor Sarah Robson, Senior Communication Consultant – Aon.

Aon’s Benefits and Trends Survey 2019 found that 98 percent of employers say engagement and understanding benefits is important but 70 percent of respondents spend less than £5k on communications annually.

The survey showed that the second most important reason for increasing understanding of total reward is retention, while the third is to support recruitment and being an employer of choice.

Aon’s Benefits and Trends Survey, now in its ninth year, is formed from the responses of over 200 employers of all sizes, from across a broad range of sectors, and with 74 percent of them working internationally.

Sarah Robson, senior communication consultant of Aon, says: “If you are putting money, time and resource into benefits and wellbeing it is important to make sure that employees know about them. Just like marketing a consumer product, the audience needs to be clearly understood so the right communication approaches can be used.

“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.”

The Survey shows that 70 percent of employers spend less than £5k on benefits communications annually, 13 percent spend between £5,001 and £10,000, 12 percent spend between £10,001 and £20,000, while only 5 percent spend between £20,001 and £30,000. However, 46 percent of companies say they are willing to increase expenditure to improve communications.

Currently, employers largely use emails and posters for communications, at 97 percent and 62 percent respectively. Interestingly, face to face (2019 56 percent, 2018 45 percent) and webinars (2019 32 percent, 2018 22 percent) are both becoming more popular as the education and explaining of benefits is more sought-after. There is also an emergence of digital marketing, such as app push notifications and personalised videos; in total 44 percent of communications is digitally focused.

The Survey also found that 30 percent of respondents think augmented and virtual reality technologies have a part to play in communicating benefits, with 31 percent not knowing enough about the technology and 32 percent not sure. Seven percent say that the technologies don’t have a part to play. Interestingly, 53 percent of organisations don’t segment their audience when communicating to employees. Those that do, tend only to segment by work location (40 percent), which is unlikely to have much of an impact in terms of appealing to employees’ individual needs.

Sarah Robson explains: “Just 3 percent 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.”

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