Debi O’Donovan: New dawn in benefits communication

In 2013, for the first time, the number of internet-connected mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, will exceed the number of desktop and laptop personal computers in use, according to investment bank Morgan Stanley.

Naturally, this change in our habits is affecting the way benefits are being communicated in the workplace. Even where employers have vast numbers of staff who do not use computers in their daily work, most of them are likely to be carrying smartphones. Not maximising this handheld communication is rather like continuing to use the old office memo once email came in (although, if I were to get a memo in an internal envelope these days, I really would sit up and take notice).

Seriously, though, a rapid evolution is taking place. Benefits consultants and providers are stepping into the breach with a wide range of online tools and apps that can be used to get staff to think about their health, pensions and savings in general.

As our cover story (Upwardly mobile) explains, employers no longer need deep pockets to develop bespoke benefits modellers. Cheap or free options are now commonly bundled in with benefits products and services.

Talking to those in the business and hearing what is coming down the track, I get the feeling we are at the dawn of an exciting time for benefits communication. Small players are leaping forward with fresh ideas that will help spur the more established market.

A sneak peek at our annual flexible benefits research (published next month) shows that benefits communication will be the hot topic this year. It never quite goes away, but is now back with a vengeance. On hot topics, our 2013 Hot 100 are announced this month. These highly esteemed benefits managers are the leaders and innovators in our industry and the work they do at their organisations collectively helps hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of employees. I am sure all our readers will join us in congratulating them for making the list.

This month, we also announce the judges for the annual Employee Benefits Awards, who will pore over the entries to decide our finalists. Each year, our judging panels put in long hours and take these awards very seriously. So I want to thank them in advance for their time.

Debi O’Donovan, Editor
Follow on Twitter: @DebiODonovan