Benefits Education and Alternative Investments Are Must-Haves for Today’s Workforce

Health Savings EducationBenefits Education should be standard operating procedure.  Since there are so many alternative benefits these days, benefits education is more important than ever before!

However, more options often leads to confusion.  Complicating matters is that many employees report they don’t feel they have enough information about their workplace benefits, including their retirement plan, to make informed decisions, pointing to the need for more education and support from employers.

According to a recent BenefitsPro article, a survey of 800 full-time employees conducted by LegalShield found that 47% said they felt unprepared to make informed decisions about their company benefits during the open enrollment period.  A report issued with the survey results suggested that employers could improve in terms of informing employees about their options and that the process should be ongoing.  In other words, employee benefits education and communication efforts should be happening all year, not just before and during open enrollment.  A strong majority; 81% of respondents said they would welcome benefits communications outside of open enrollment.

Regular employee benefit communications help to increase employees’ awareness of their options.  And employers who can figure out how to communicate about benefits in a relevant and timely way not only keep their workforce informed, but give them a chance to make decisions that meet their needs. According to LegalShield, employers should make sure their workforce has access to comprehensive information sources.  Information sessions about benefits can be helpful as well, whether in person or virtual.  Multiple communication channels and formats are necessary to reach the largest number of employees.  More than half (52%) of the LegalShield survey respondents reported they didn’t receive adequate information during open enrollment.

Meanwhile, it appears interest in diversification into alternative investments is increasing.  This includes cryptocurrency and ESG funds.  According to the 2022 Investopedia Financial Literacy Survey, cited recently in Employee Benefit News, about one-third of employee investors under the age of 55 plan to rely on cryptocurrency during retirement.  And according to Schroders 2021 U.S. Retirement Survey, 69% of employees said they would or might increase their overall retirement contribution rate if environmental, social, and governance (ESG) options were offered.  That means not only do employers need to ensure they’re keeping up with the educational demands of an employee audience ravenous for off-the-beaten-path investment options, financial advisors working with those employees also have their work cut out for them.  The assets capturing the most attention are cryptocurrency and ESG funds.

In today’s tight labor market, it’s important for employers to offer competitive benefits that reflect what employees need and value.  That includes retirement plans that provide some alternative investment options, such as cryptocurrency and ESG funds.  However, employers should also be mindful that they are providing sufficient education around not only the retirement plan and the investment lineup, but all employee benefits, all year round.  Doing so will help support recruiting and retention, while also giving employees the opportunity to make informed decisions.


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