Short Term Gain Supersedes Long Term Benefit: Unum Survey Reveals


Unum survey finds, more than half of U.S. workers forego disability insurance, leave income at risk. An effective return-to-work strategy and dedicated mental health support from a disability provider can reduce the likelihood of short-term disability claims advancing to the long-term disability claim.

When companies offer benefits to their employees, while the organization knows its financial investment, the workers do not usually know how it will help them. Instead of long-term benefits, many employees prefer short term access to pay.

UnumOpens a new window  has shared the new survey findings, which reveal that more than half of the workers forego disability insurance and leave the income at risk. As per the survey, 7 out of 10 Baby Boomers are also letting go of this coverage, even though they are highly likely to need this given their age. This generation makes up 47% of all long-term disability claims.

Due to immediate financial requirements that need to be met through their compensation, employees might overlook the need to opt for disability insurance. Why is there an emphasis on short term needs and lack of focus on the future? Perhaps organizations need to emphasize how they are communicating such benefits and how their overall benefits package is designed to have short-term and long-term options.

Why Is Cash Compensation More Important Than Non-cash Benefits?

“People are more likely to protect their homes, phones, or cars than their most important asset: their income,” said Chris Pyne, executive vice president of Group Benefits at Unum. “But without a paycheck, they likely wouldn’t even have these other assets.”

When asked why they didn’t take this insurance as per the respondents, (33%) said that they were healthy and didn’t need it, 29% said they could not afford it, 11% didn’t see the value in it, and 10% didn’t know what it covers.

Due to lack of awareness about what it covers or long term vision or not able to see the value it adds, employees are missing out on a benefit that can protect them in their senior years close to retirement.

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What companies can do to make the value of benefits clearer

There need to be ways in which employees can be sensitized towards their benefits, especially since it is for benefits such as disability insurance, which will cost less when opted for through the organization.

Benefits Communication

This has been an area of improvement for decades. While pay is clear because it is tangible, the financial value of benefits is not always apparent. Apart from listing down the benefits and information related to the same on an intranet platform, communication should be geared towards the employees’ active engagement. Using technology to connect them to benefits counselors or vendors who provide the benefit is a good step. Allowing them to create future-focused scenarios based on their benefits enrolment can also give them a better picture of what they might be missing out on. Also, given the time employees spend on the phone, having a mobile app to communicate information is needed. Employee benefit apps such as the Grooms Benefits,Opens a new window  for example, have been making this happen for healthcare benefits.

Tracking Utilization and Identifying Reasons Frequently

When you monitor the benefits usage, you gain insight into how many employees are using it. An engagement survey specifically to cover their views about the offered benefits and what employees think of them is important to have. It will be even better if mobile platforms are used to distribute the surveys to ensure maximum participation. The evaluation can also allow companies to define how to compartmentalize their communication strategy towards different employees’ sets. For the baby boomer segment employees, this could be more attuned to how they can benefit from the long-term benefits, especially in healthcare and disability. Data is powerful for companies to use for the improvement of utilization as well.

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Apart from the above, companies need to re-evaluate their benefits structures to understand how they have balanced it with short-term as well as long-term benefits. If affordability seems a concern, perhaps it is arising from the higher emphasis on long-term benefits and the absence of those benefits that can mitigate the employees’ immediate financial pressures.