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Exploiting Intranets To Transmit HR Info

Proactive carriers see an opportunity to reap retention and recruitment benefits.

Company intranets and public Web sites have become standard conduits for the distribution of employee-related information. And although some IT organizations are allocating funds for the posting of retention and recruitment-related information, many aren't exploiting these means of communication to their full potential.

These findings are based on a recent study conducted by Mellon Financial subsidiary Buck Consulting (Pittsburgh) and Scottsdale, AZ-based WorldatWork, a non-profit professional association dedicated to knowledge leadership in compensation and benefits. The survey polled 676 WorldatWork members.

Organization & Accessibility

In order to most effectively leverage the dissemination of information about retention and recruitment, companies need to focus more closely on the organization and accessibility of that information so that it engages employees and enforces self-help, according to Jim Stoeckmann, senior compensation manager, WorldatWork. When information is properly presented, "it improves the company's brand and the recruitment and retention of key talent," contends Stoeckmann, who suggests that insurance carriers need to treat employees like customers.

"We live in a hyper-speed environment where there is all sorts of competition for our share of mind," Stoeckmann says. "Employees really appreciate an employer that is making information easy to access and, consequently, making an employee's life easier."

Although the study finds that cutting or managing costs was the highest-ranking reason for providing benefit information online, these initiatives may have taken a back seat as organizations focus on more pressing fiscal matters, according to Nicole Kelly, communications practice leader, Buck Consulting.

One carrier that has made room for improvements in its personnel communication channels is Columbus, GA-based AFLAC ($37 billion in assets).

The carrier has invested heavily in employee retention and recruitment, and its intranet and public Web site are playing key roles in the dissemination of this kind of information. In order to engage its employees in the evaluation and selection of benefits and services made available to them, the carrier recently conducted a redesign of its human resources intranet site, explains Pat Patterson, AFLAC's manager, human resources employee communications.

The newly redesigned site features access to traditional benefits information, such as an online employee benefits guide and a leaders guide for managers. It also provides self-help capabilities to employees. Personnel are granted the ability to check the status of claims and mail prescription orders online, Patterson explains.

Additionally, AFLAC is helping to make life easier for employees as it encourages staff interaction. It does this by offering features such as AFLAC "classified." The online classified section lets employees post and purchase goods. A concierge service section is also available on the site. It provides information about employee perks such as the insurance company's on-site dry-cleaning service.

Compensation Information

Despite the fact that the sharing of compensation information is not common, AFLAC makes compensation-related information available to its employees through its human resources intranet site. According to the Buck Consulting study, the sharing of this type of information continues to be taboo-even in the information age-with only one in seven companies providing general base or incentive pay information and fewer than one in five companies mentioning anything about their organization's compensation philosophy on their public Web sites.

But at AFLAC, the feeling is that by posting quarterly updates about employees' profit-based bonuses, and by sharing its compensation philosophy on its public Web site, the carrier is helping to improve its image to existing and prospective employees. This is a very savvy approach, according to WorldatWork's Stoeckmann.

"There has been a long-standing unwillingness on the part of companies to share salary information," he explains. "If companies are proactive and put this type of information out there, they would be better held in the public regard." Stoeckmann predicts that "companies will probably provide that type of information on their Web sites before too long."

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