Good Communication Can Help Company Wellness Programs Succeed

Face-to-face benefits communication can help increase awareness of wellness offerings

Oct 14, 2011, 08:30 ET from Colonial Life

COLUMBIA, S.C., Oct. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- What good are company wellness programs if employees don't know about them and the services offered?  Just like other employee benefits, wellness programs can be under-appreciated and under-used if they're not properly communicated.  

Currently, 60 percent of employers offer a wellness program, and another 8 percent of companies plan to offer one within the next 12 months.(1)  The growing popularity of wellness programs bodes well for the health of our country's workforce — but only if employees take advantage of them.

"Employers today are more interested than ever in offering wellness programs to their employees," says Randy Horn, president and CEO of Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company.  "They're looking for ways to help offset the rising cost of providing health care coverage to employees, and they want to attract and retain a quality workforce as well. But merely offering a wellness program won't necessarily get employees engaged — you have to communicate well and often."

Employers can partner with a benefits carrier that offers face-to-face communication as part of its enrollment services to help spread the word about their wellness benefits.  Tools such as benefits statements and salary illustrations can help employees understand the value of the services provided.  But a sit-down, face-to-face session with a benefits counselor can help employees develop an even better awareness and appreciation of a company wellness program.

"Don't underestimate the value of personal, individualized benefits communication in today's workplace," says Horn.  "The increasing responsibility employees have for making decisions about their benefits makes good communication more important than ever.  Employers that use a carrier that offers this service at no charge as part of its enrollment process will find a more satisfied and engaged workforce."

Employers feel workers don't understand their benefits in general.  

The perception among employers is that their workforce knows very little about their benefits.  In fact, less than 19 percent of employers think their employees have a very good understanding of their benefits. And nearly 5 percent think their employees know nothing at all about their benefits.(2)

A Harvard Business Review survey sponsored by Unum points out the need for improved benefits communication.  In a 2010 survey of HR leaders, 43 percent say their employees are satisfied with their benefits, but considerably fewer (30 percent) say the same about their benefits communication.(3)  In fact, 23 percent of them say their employees view their benefits communication as weak.

"Employers shouldn't let poor communications impact their investment in a company wellness program," says Horn. "They can complement the work that's being done by HR departments and others in the company by adding 1-to-1 benefits communication to their toolbox."

About Colonial Life

Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing insurance benefits for employees and their families through their workplace, along with individual benefits education, advanced yet simple-to-use enrollment technology and quality personal service. Colonial Life offers disability, life and supplemental accident and health insurance policies in 49 states, the District of Columbia. Similar policies, if approved, are underwritten in New York by a Colonial Life affiliate, The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company, Worcester, Mass. Colonial Life is based in Columbia, S.C., and is a subsidiary of Unum Group, one of the world's leading providers of employee benefits.

For more information about voluntary benefits, call Colonial Life at (803) 798-7000 or visit www.coloniallife.com.

(1) 2011 Employee Benefits, Examining Employee Benefits Amidst Uncertainty, Society for Human Resource Management, Feb., 2011.
(2) Colonial Life, SHRM National Conference Survey, July 2009.
(3) Unum/Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, June 2010.

SOURCE Colonial Life



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