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February 19, 2008
Companies Step up Comp & Benefits Communication
Over half of employers (53%) reported that they took action via internal communication to increase employee enrollment in benefits programs in 2007, more than doubling the figure (25%) of employers that did so in 2003.

According to Watson Wyatt's 2007/2008 Communication ROI study, these employers used communication vehicles such as printed materials, special mailings and employee meetings to increase enrollment in benefits programs last year.

"As more companies take steps to rein in health care costs and update their benefit offerings, the need for better communication is becoming clear," said Kathryn Yates, global director of communication consulting for Watson Wyatt, in a press release. "Companies expect employees to assume more responsibility for their financial and personal health, so it's important to provide them with the resources to make informed decisions."

In addition, 50% of employers collected information "to assess perceived value of employee benefit programs" in 2007 compared to 34% in 2003.

These increases regarding benefits communication were but a few among other areas in which employer stepped up their communications with employees, including at least one related to compensation. For example, more employers communicated the connection between pay and business strategy in 2007 (80%) than they did in 2003 (70%).

Meanwhile, the number of employers that regularly measure employee behavior change to verify that communication initiatives are working also increased, from 29% in 2003 to 53% in 2007. And, many more employers also now use Web technology to allow employees to gain access to training/development tools than they did 4 years ago (57% to 37%).

Employer communication went down in several areas also, however. The largest decline reported in the survey was the number of employers that offer "personalized education materials on income needs in retirement ," a figure that dropped from 58% in 2003 to 47% in 2007. And, there was a slight drop in the percentage of employers (66% to 62%) who explain he reason behind major decisions.

"Good communication connects employee performance to the bottom line," said Yates. "Companies that expect workers to perform at peak levels are explaining why they make certain management decisions. They gather employee input and feedback to build workers' understanding ­ an exercise that has been shown to increase their productivity and improve financial results."

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