Benefits communication needs improvement

"When will I need to supplement with an annuity?" (AP file photo)

Ninety-eight percent of employees feel that it is somewhat important to understand the benefits provided to them by their employer with 73 percent saying it is very important.

The findings come from research commissioned by Colonial Life & Accident Insurance and conducted by Harris Interactive.

Communication of the importance and mechanics of benefits has never been the strong suit of employers — oddly enough, even for employers involved in the benefits industry — but, as more and more Americans begin to realize they may be underfunding their retirementclear benefits communication is becoming of utmost importance.

Ninety-seven percent of employees reported that they feel having an adequate level of financial protection for them and their families is somewhat important with 67 percent saying it is very important.

Ninety-five percent responded that having the information to customize their benefits package is somewhat important while 59 percent said it was very important. Information is invaluable to these employees because they need to understand where they need supplemental coverage outside of the workplace.

Unless an employee understands how their defined contribution plan works for them they may not be aware of gaps that can be plugged by an annuity or an IRA.

Employees also expressed interest in receiving regular updates from their employer about their benefits program and having access to a benefits expert.

Sixty-percent of employees said their employers benefits communication was fairly effective while 9 percent say it is not effective at all.

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