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convenience + desire = social media for benefits communications. a wake-up calll from metlife’s 9th annual study of employee benefits trends.

March 30, 2011

in health care,health communication,social media,wellness

metlife has some strong words for employers in their 9th annual study of employee benefits trends report. their message? you don’t get it.

ok, so i’m paraphrasing here. but essentially, that’s the report’s gist. employers have lost the plot when it comes to designing and communicating benefits for their multigenerational workforce. and if metlife’s correct, they’ll pay for it in high churn. one in three employees hopes to be working elsewhere in 12 months’ time.

there are numerous posts and more articles covering this study in some regard. i want to cover three things only.

there’s a disconnect between wellness and productivity goals

“At the same time that employers are emphasizing their focus on cost control and cost shifting, they are placing less importance on increasing employee job satisfaction. There is also reduced emphasis on benefits that help employees achieve a better work-life balance; perhaps a questionable course given that many employees are dealing with increased stress at home and work.”

this study and SHRM’s 2011 workforce trends report highlight a teeny wrinkle. companies are trying to control all costs, including health care costs, and they’re doing so at the expense of their other goal: improving employees’ overall well-being. metlife calls acute attention to these competing priorities, particularly in a section where they show the connection between financial stress and debt and overall health.

it’s time to invest in personal, generations-based solutions

“Nearly 50% of employers responding to the survey have over 10 years of Human Resources (HR) experience and may not bring Gen X and Gen Y viewpoints to the table. Lack of consideration and customization for generational wants and needs may result in employers not offering the right benefits to get more return on their benefits investments.”

whether it’s design or communications, companies have been slow to deliver customized solutions. they’ve overlooked the opportunity to tailor benefits and target messages to different generations, and they’ve persisted in delivering a one-size-fits-all benefits package, one not necessarily delivered via the channel many employees would prefer: the internet. it’s expensive to create tailored solutions. but then again, so are poor choices and the lowered productivity that comes from lowered commitment.

convenience + desire = social media for benefits communications

“Seventy percent of employers say they do not use social media, and the Study uncovers some of the perceived barriers to including it in the communications mix. Some employers (25%) believe there is a lack of interest on the part of their employees, while others cite legal concerns (23%) or lack of resources (37%). Others say it is just “not valuable” for their company (33%).”

seventy-four percent of companies “acknowledge that social media provides an easy, convenient way for employees to obtain benefits information,” and the data shows gen x and gen y employees want their benefits information delivered this way. the conversation should no longer be about why not to use social media for benefits communications but how to do so.

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David Janus March 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Nice post. You mention the report calling attention to personal financial issues as a potential cause of stress to employees. What did you think of the whole “financial wellness” approach to the topic?

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fran March 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm

thanks, david.

i think it’s right on. this report echoes what we’ve heard from SHRM’s report, from deloitte and their retirement readiness report and from countless others: employees aren’t prepared for their retirement. 82% are unsure about meeting their retirement goals, according to a recent towers watson report. they want more help from their employer. this report does an excellent job of bringing what’s often separate conversations — wellness and financial education – together.

and you?
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Jennifer Benz March 31, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Great post! Absolutely, it is a must for companies to change their approach. I was at the MetLife Symposium in DC this week when they announced the results of the survey. Lots of energy around social media and improving communications. Unfortunately, most companies are still scared of social media because they don’t think they have enough resources. But, social media can actually save time when done as part of an ongoing communication strategy. And, it is super simple to get started. We’re mid-way through teaching about 200 companies how to do so with our Social Media Starter Kit in partnership with the Ohio Health Action Council and Pittsburgh Business Group on Health. Really exciting!

The “why” doesn’t need to be explained any more and the “how” is really easy and well-documented. Time to just do it! 🙂

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