Millions of employees are being left in the dark about the workplace benefits available to them, new research shows, with employers not doing enough to communicate the perks.

According to a poll by Canada Life, more than a third (34%) of employees – equivalent to 11.2m people – would like their employer to explain more about benefits such as income protection and private medical insurance available to them at work. The survey also found that:

  • One in 10 employees (9%) have no idea which benefits, if any, they can access
  • One in five (20%) received information about the benefits available to them when they first joined their workplace, but never again
  • Two fifths (40%) feel more positive about their employer if they offer an annual bonus, or would if they don’t already
  • Nearly a third (31%) said the same with regards to income protection

The research showed the need for UK employers to talk more openly about the benefits in place, which are known to improve staff wellbeing, reduce absenteeism and create a happier, healthier workforce. Companies also need to regularly review the way in which they communicate with staff, with more than half (56%) of employees preferring to receive information on workplace benefits via email, 29% wishing to be updated face-to-face and 26% preferring an intranet hub.

Despite the distinct absence of clear communication, most employees believe that their employer has a positive approach towards their wellbeing. Three quarters think that their wellbeing is important to their employer, and this rises to 83% for employees aged between 18 and 34.

In all age groups, 31% of employees said they would feel more positive about their employer if they offered them income protection. Twenty six percent listed life insurance as an attractive benefit, while a quarter would feel more positive about their employer if they offered critical illness cover. For one in five, a big perk would be gym membership.

Canada Life Group Insurance marketing director Paul Avis said: “Workplace benefits should be a top priority for employers. Not only do they improve employee wellbeing, they are useful tools to attract and retain top talent, which will become increasingly important as the war for talent intensifies.

“Worryingly, many employers who have made the positive step of putting an effective benefits package in place are not reaping the rewards because they are failing to communicate their availability properly.

“Although this is a significant problem, there is a simple solution. Employers should re-evaluate their communication methods and learn what works for their employees. Our research suggests a renewed focus on email updates, face-to-face communication or an internal intranet system is a good place to start to fully articulate the availability of workplace benefits and give regular updates. This will ensure that all staff members understand which perks are available to them and will ultimately improve their perception of their employer.

“Advisers also have a role to play in arming employers with the information and tools necessary to effectively promote benefits within the workplace, ideally working in close partnership with the insurance provider.”

To find out more about our insurance protection products, read our useful guides. And if you’re a business owner thinking about offering your staff corporate health cover, visit our group insurance page to find out all you need to know.