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Disability Insurance Observer: Angry Workers

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Employers that want to keep their employees, or at least keep offices and production floors calm, might want to give a little extra thought to how they say what they say about disability insurance and other benefits.

The job market is probably a little better than it was, but not much better.

The economy stopped imploding awhile back and resumed painfully slow growth, but part of that growth came from employers laying off workers who might not have been especially productive but at least were available to fill in when the productive workers took vacations.

The surviving productive workers have spent the past 4 years giving up vacations, working uncompensated overtime, doing the work of two or three people, and, generally, stuffing it, because, really, where they came from, there have been 10 jillion other people just as good looking for work.

ComPsych Corp., Chicago, recently reported that 38% of employee say they are unable to stop thinking about their problems.

The percentage who told ComPsych that they have felt sad over the past 6 months has increased to 36%, up from 26% in mid-2011, and the percentage who admitted that they have been angry has increased to 24%, from 23%. 

Unum Group Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn. (NYSE:UNM), conducted a Web survey of its own and asked U.S. adults ages 18 and older to talk about their employee benefits.

Unum found that 28% of the 1,100 employed participants said morale has declined in the past year. Just 55% of the workers said they would choose to stay with their employers if they were offered the same pay and benefits elsewhere.

The percentage interested in staying with their current employers has dropped from 62% in 2008.

Unum also looked at employers’ benefits communication efforts.

The percentage of employees who could speak to a benefits advisor over the phone has fallen to 29%, down from 47% in 2008, and the percentage who received printed benefits information dropped to 50%, from 70% in 2008.

Unum did not ask about the percentage of workers who felt as if they were locked out of seeing their benefits information at least part of the year because they have no idea what their benefits system user name is, let alone the password, and are too tired to go through the forgotten-password retrieval routine (for the 500th time).

About 82% of the workers who said their benefits education was excellent also said their employer was an excellent or very good place to work.

Maybe there’s a message there: If you can’t give employees great news, at least say what you can say nicely. Or, at least, supplement digital communications with flesh-and-blood communications.