Missing the hidden benefits

Nov 29 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Most employees simply focus on how much money they are being paid at the end of each month and fail to appreciate what their employer is spending on "hidden" workplace benefits, so leading them to believe they are worse off than they actually are, a U.S study has suggested.

The study by benefits communications consultancy Charlton Consulting Group called on HR and benefits professionals to do a lot more to communicate the real cost of their work-related benefits and, therefore, the value employees get from them.

While HR professionals recognised personalised communication, such as total compensation statements (which list all of an employee's benefits and the actual costs paid by their employer) could help improve workers' understanding of the value of their benefits, few actually used such tools, it found.

The poll of 128 companies found that just 5 per cent of HR and benefits executives felt their employees fully understood and appreciated the value of their total compensation package.

This compared with more than a third who felt their workers did not understand the value of their total compensation at all.

Nearly all Ė 97 per cent Ė said personalised communications could play a distinct role in helping employees better understand their benefits and the overall value of their total compensation.

And a similar number felt total compensation statements in particular were important in communicating this value to employees.

But the majority of HR departments were not taking advantage of this tool, with more than half admitted to not using total compensation statements as part of their employee communications.

"While HR and benefits executives know total compensation statements have a real impact, many find it challenging to get around to producing them due their being overloaded with so many other responsibilities," said David Janus, a principal of Charlton Consulting Group.

"Even though the survey indicates the use of total compensation statements is growing, there are still a large number of companies missing a golden opportunity to provide clear, simple and focused benefits communications that will bridge the knowledge gap and help educate employees on the overall value of their total compensation," he added.