Employees feel less financially secure, but benefits education can help, Unum research shows
Unum’s fifth annual survey of working Americans shows that more employees feel financially insecure, with more than 40 percent postponing retirement and half saying they aren’t confident they have enough savings for future expenses or to cover lost income if they are sidelined by illness or injury.
But as disheartening as this may sound, it points to an opportunity for us to work toward reversing these trends.
“This year in particular, in the shadow of health care reform, the need for effective benefits education is greater than ever,” said Barbara Nash, vice president of Corporate Research at Unum. “Our research shows a connection between good benefits education, employees’ feelings of financial security, and positive perceptions of their employer.”
Every year, Unum conducts research among a national sample of American workers to measure employee attitudes toward their workplace, benefits and benefits education.
The 2012 survey of 1,890 working adults conducted by Harris Interactive found that more than a third (36 percent) don’t feel financially secure, and the percentage who feels “not at all secure” (currently 16 percent) has increased since 2011.
“There continued to be anxiety over finances in 2012, indicating that the modest improvements to our economy are not yet being felt by working Americans,” Nash said. “With added confusion over requirements for health care reform, it is an extremely important year for employers to help their employees understand their benefits and the decisions they need to make.”
As the fall benefits enrollment season approaches, this research offers clear evidence of the positive role of effective education.
More than three-quarters (80 percent) of employees who rate their benefits package as excellent or very good say they are financially secure, compared to only 54 percent who rated their benefits education poor/fair. Eighty-one percent of employees who rated their benefits education highly also rated the employer an excellent or very good place to work. Conversely, only 23 percent of employees who rated their benefits education as fair or poor also said their employer was an excellent or very good place to work.
The link between a positive benefit education experience and overall workplace satisfaction isn’t new, yet Unum’s research finds that employers continue to spend too little time and not enough resources on helping employees understand their benefits. This is evident with one-quarter of employees saying the benefits education provided by their employers is fair or poor.
Our recommended 3+3 approach to benefits education meets the needs and various learning styles of employees. Research shows that offering three varied types of education materials and three weeks to allow employees to make an informed choice is a communication strategy that adds up to better benefits education.
“At the heart of the survey’s findings is a clear connection between effective benefits education and engaged employees,” Nash said. “When employers show their concern for their employees’ financial well-being, everyone benefits.”
To find out more about the power of employee education to influence workforce satisfaction, download our Beyond the Usual Benefits booklet.
Harris Interactive, Unum 2012 Employee Education and Enrollment Survey (2013). Results based on an online survey conducted by Harris Interactive of 1,890 employed adults with benefits from a variety of providers.