Employers Go High-Tech with Benefit Information

Most employers say they understand the importance of benefit communications. Unfortunately, many struggle to translate that knowledge into actions.

Now more than ever, employers are turning to technology to make those communications easier and more effective.

A recent study by ADP found that 80 percent of polled employers said it is vital for employees to fully understand their benefit options, but only 60 percent of respondents said they were confident that their employees really get it, according to a PLANSPONSOR report.

Web portals have become a key tool in battling this gap, with 71 percent of midsize employers saying they have a devoted website for employee benefit communications, according to the ADP poll.

Emerging technologies, especially mobile devices, appear to be spurring interest in the use of technology-based benefit communications. The ADP survey found that participants estimated that about two in five employees use mobile devices in their work, and 39 percent of polled midsize companies said they provide mobile access to benefit information, according to the study.

Like mobile devices, social media tools and websites have seen an explosion of use over the past few years. As the social media phenomenon continues to blossom, so does its use as an internal communications tool by companies.

More than 60 percent of companies report that they make at least one social media tool available to some or all of their employees, according to new research by International Association of Business Communicators and Prescient Digital Media. The survey, published in Employee Benefit News, noted that among companies’ corporate intranets, the most popular social media features were blogs (75 percent), discussion forums (65 percent) and instant messaging (63 percent).

Toby Ward, president of Prescient Digital Media, told EBN that companies need to make a real commitment to planning and technology if they want these kinds of communications to stick.

“While the popularity of social media tools . . . is rising, only about one-quarter of frontline employees and executives alike rate their intranet social media as good or very good,” Ward said. “Without a proper plan, adequate investment and the requisite change management and communications, most intranet social media initiatives will fail.”



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