Employee care | How to help your employees understand their employee protection benefits

How to help your employees understand their employee protection benefits

Handing over a 50-page policy document, while highlighting the potential for human disaster and despair and, ergo, the need for protection insurance, represents one way of helping your people understand life insurance, income protection and critical illness cover…

But such an approach won’t do you, or your people, any favours these days. Neither will it do the products any favours, to be fair. While their core reason for being hasn’t changed – and is just as valuable as ever – these products and their embedded services also have the potential to bring great value to your people and your business as part of wider wellbeing strategy.

The doomsayer approach dates back to the days of the door-to-door life insurance salespeople. It stayed true to the product and, by all accounts, it seemed to work very well. But, arguably, success was perhaps more due to the personal relationships made than the sales messages shared.

In a workplace sense, protection products have expanded from life insurance to also encompass cover should long-term illness or injury strike; offering either a regular percentage of salary until the individual is well enough to return to work, or a lump sum to help pay off the mortgage or simply enjoy some time out, free from financial worry. These ‘peace of mind’ focused products have always represented a nice to have. But at the cost to the employer of being ‘easy to forget’.

Times change. So should your programme design

Fast forward to the present day and although the need for the core product hasn’t changed - and has brought comfort to countless individuals and their families - the workplace environment that it sits in has changed immeasurably.

We’re not just talking pandemic sized change here. (Although it’s worth mentioning here that furlough is basically the biggest income protection scheme ever seen. It has undoubtedly helped raise awareness of the value of salary protection, alongside an understanding that such an extraordinary state-sized plug won’t be materialising in ‘normal’ times.)

Rather, we’re talking here about employee wellbeing and engagement. The narrative around which, in terms of the benefits to people and business, was gaining traction (albeit painfully slowly) prior to the pandemic. Then Covid-19 and the mass shift to homeworking ensured that the health and happiness of people shot to the top of the leadership agenda.

This is about a sustainable future, not a passing fad

Now, we’re seeing that the top post Covid-19 trends that organisations will be building on are: in pole position, ‘Increasing focus on mental health and wellbeing’ (70%); followed by, ‘increasing focus on diversity and inclusion’ (55%); and ‘New ways of working’ (52%).1

Protection benefits, along with their embedded services – such as employee assistance programmes, eldercare support, Long Covid programmes and nurse-led support programmes – need to be considered an integrated part of the mental health and wellbeing priority, not something that sits alongside it.

Interestingly, one of the top barriers to employees understanding the relevance of protection products to their health and happiness is corporate ‘noise’.2

Organisations that thrive focus attention on making one change at a time. So, focus on overall health and happiness. Design a benefit and wellbeing programme accordingly. Communicate it well. Measure the impacts, tweak and improve.

Top tips for better benefit and wellbeing engagement

  • Ensure your company has a strong purpose and clear and consistent values.

  • Build trust by being faithful to that purpose, equipping people for that purpose and treating them with kindness and respect.

  • Think of your employees as customers. Don’t just deliver one-size-fits-all communication. Tailor messages and channels to audience. First and foremost, use communication to enable a certain degree of safety and comfort. This is needed before your people can be expected to engage with anything.

  • The above applies as much to your wellbeing strategy as it does to every other touchpoint your employees have with the business.

  • Don’t just ‘tell, tell, tell’. As humans, we like to take it all in then come to our conclusions. So, give employees the tools – in terms of education, awareness, benefits and services – they need to take control of their own health and happiness. And the support and guidance to get well when things go wrong. This is about giving people choice. Putting them in the driving seat.

  • Wherever possible, use real-life stories – from your own workforce - to share how the benefit and wellbeing support has made a difference to individuals. Get the exec and line managers involved too.

Reinsurance company Pacific Life Re are focused on ensuring their benefit and wellbeing agendas are aligned. Their 350-employee London division recently won an award for ‘Best Pandemic Response’ at the latest Legal & General Not A Red Card (NARC) Awards, a campaign to help encourage businesses to talk about mental health in the workplace and to celebrate those that do.

Find out more

1 - Gallagher, State of the Sector 2021: the definitive global survey of the internal communication and employee engagement landscape, Feb 2021
2 - Legal & General commissioned Opinium to carry out this research, involving 1,087 UK employees who have access to either IP, CIC or EAP. Dec 2020.

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