Communication matters when it comes to voluntary benefits use


As HR pros know, companies spend significant time and effort to develop competitive and innovative voluntary benefits programs as a low cost, smart strategy to achieve a productive, happier and healthier workforce.

When talking voluntary, if you consider vision benefits alone, you can easily see the savings and health impacts—no pun intended! Uncorrected vision can lead to a productivity loss of about $7,800 a year, per employee. 1

Plus, eye exams not only protect employees’ vision and keep eyewear prescription changes updated, but they can be essential in spotting warning signs of major medical conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.  This becomes even more important since Americans are 4 times more likely to get an eye exam than a physical, and optometrists can alert patients sooner to health risks beyond their vision.9

But are companies leaving a lot of the effort and investment in voluntary benefit programs such as vision on the table, by short changing the communication that employees need to get the most of them?

Employees think communication could be better

Unfortunately, studies confirm too many employers are missing the mark on effective benefits communication. Consider these facts:

  • 22% of employees don't know if their employer offers a wellness program2
  • 88% believe their health plan could be doing a better job of explaining their financial responsibility3

Even HR professionals acknowledge the gap, with only 14% saying their employees are “very knowledgeable” about the benefits available to them4.

So where should HR professionals start? The answer is different for every organization, but these 3 principles are universal:

1. Communicate early and often

A benefits communication plan shouldn't start and end at enrollment. It can take between 7 and 15 communications for employees to remember and take action on a message, so this could mean planning some form of benefits communication up to once a month.

When it comes to how often employers communicate benefits information to employees, 35% of respondents to a study by The Cicero Group said their company provided information only once a year, and 8% said once a month.5

2. Use a variety of communication channels

Employees prefer to consume information in different ways. Some are glued to their mobile devices, others watch their home mailboxes and others peruse the bulletin boards in the cafeteria.

Even in the digital age, more than half of employees prefer to receive benefits information through printed materials, including brochures, direct mail and posters.6

When it comes to benefits communications, employers should design a multi-channel approach, tailored to the workforce. It may include a combination of methods such as:

  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Informational meetings
  • Posters
  • Newsletters
  • Social media platforms
  • Websites
  • Webinars
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Q&As

3. Present information clearly

It’s not surprising that employees favor simplicity in benefits information. Communicating at the right times through the right channels won't mean much if employees can't understand what's in front of them.

Research shows 37% of employees say the health insurance information they receive from their employer is unclear, and 18% think their benefits communications are too complex.7, 8

Where to find more information

Strong benefits awareness contributes to usage1 and job satisfaction among employees10.  To learn more about effective communication strategies, download our free white paper: "Communication matters: Strategies that can help increase usage of voluntary benefits".

And, if you want to learn how EyeMed vision benefits can help you challenge the status quo, including getting more employees to enroll, use their benefits and visit an in-network provider, see this EyeMed overview.



1 "Invigorating Interest in the Vision Benefit” from the NAVCP Medical Advisor Roundtable. 2013
2 Pitney Bowes. "The Rx for Health Insurance Communications" 2012.
3 Healthedge. "Market Dynamics Require New Ways of Interacting with Health Plan Members."
4 ALEX. "What Your Employees Think About Your Benefits Communication."
5 The Cicero Group. "How to Engage Your Members: Frequently, Relevantly, and Simply."
7 Pitney Bowes.
8 BenefitVision. "Why Does Everyone Hate Open Enrollment?"
9 NAVCP, 2016
10 Unum