Nearly a third (32%) of employers believe new technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality, will play a part in benefits communications, latest research from Aon Employee Benefits reveals.
The consultant's Benefits and Trends Survey 2018 found that, while 36% of respondents were not sure and 18% said they did not know enough to make a judgement, only 13% of those surveyed said these technologies would not be useful for benefits communication and employee engagement.
The research also found that engaging employees remains the most important objective of an online or flexible benefits strategy for 82% of employers. Retention and providing employee choice are also priorities, at 71% and 65% respectively. In joint fourth place, are diversity/multigenerational reasons, as well as aligning benefits with an employer value proposition at 55%.
Aon Employee Benefits strategic communications and engagement proposition leader Jerry Edmondson explained: "Typically, the employee benefits world has lagged several years behind the marketing world in adopting new engagement technology.
"However, as employee expectations and technology evolves, we're seeing artificial intelligence chatbots answering HR queries, personalised motion graphics on pension statements, user-generated content promoting flexible benefits platforms and augmented reality apps supporting total reward statements. In particular, augmented reality is ready to boom in marketing generally, because digital information is laid on top of a viewer's actual environment and that capability is now available in most smartphones."
Edmondson also said that the most popular channel for communicating benefits is still email, used by 95% of respondents, while there have been downturns in the use of face-to-face communications (53% to 45%) and manager cascade (40% to 28%) from the previous survey which could be detrimental to employees understanding of their benefits.
The report also showed that the proportion of employers saying they would be willing to invest to improve their communications has risen to 42% from 36%.
Edmondson added: "New technology may have a part to play in investment as benefits teams look to keep pace with consumer experiences by executing a more digital, segmented and smarter plan in 2018. Indeed, the survey showed that companies want benefits advisers to do more to help with communications strategy, helping them to embed it into a year-round, integrated strategy, in order to reduce waste on disjointed, ad hoc communications."
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