Why inclusive communications are key to benefits take-up
Respondents to our recent DEI Benefits Research 2022 face a wide range of challenges related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The most significant are a lack of diverse leadership (81%) and a historically non-diverse workforce (72%). Both point to past recruitment, retention and recognition strategies that did not take DEI into account.
Employers want to overturn this legacy and build a more diverse workforce for the future, but say that reaching and retaining different employee groups – including black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) (69%), female (60%) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ+) talent (53%) – remains difficult.
The importance of inclusive communications
A key way to support inclusivity is through communication and understanding the make-up of a workforce. As we all know, communications are intrinsically linked to benefits take-up and usage. But unconscious bias and microaggressions that imply benefits are aimed only at particular demographics are often embedded in benefits literature and the images that accompany them.
Our research showed that employers’ commitment to reviewing the use of language and messaging in their internal communications (67%) and with their providers (39%) is a positive step. A further 32% have said that they intend to work with their providers to review communications within the next two years.
However, availability and access are still likely to have the biggest influence on benefits use. If benefits are offered only to senior leaders, or above a certain salary band, that is an immediate barrier to inclusivity. A lack of diversity at senior level will mean restricted take-up of some benefits and prevent parts of the workforce from getting the benefit of some services. Although we saw some employers start to offer health benefits across the whole of their workforce in response to Covid-19, this is still a mixed picture.
If employers are to use benefits to help attract and motivate employees, ensuring that the language, messages and imagery used are inclusive will be paramount to setting the culture of the organisation.
This article is taken from REBA’s DEI Benefits Research 2022.