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Survey: Most employees not ready to use social media for health benefits info (7/8)

While many U.S. employees use social media for personal reasons, a vast majority have not yet jumped onto the social media bandwagon for business use, nor are they interested in receiving information about their health benefits through social media, according to a new survey by the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit group of nearly 300 large U.S. employers.

Nearly one-half (47%) of the 1,500 U.S. employees surveyed said they use Facebook daily or weekly for personal reasons while 45% use text messaging daily or weekly for personal reasons. Slightly more than one-third said they don't use social media vehicle for personal reasons at all. However, when it comes to using social media for business purposes, only 7% use Facebook and 16% use text messaging. Additionally, about 8 in ten said they weren't interested in receiving information about their employer-provided health benefits, or tips on how to exercise, eat healthy or save money on health care via Twitter or text messaging.

"While all the rage outside of the workplace is on social media, most employees aren't ready to mesh that part of their routine into the workplace, at least when it comes to health benefits," said Helen Darling, President of the National Business Group on Health. "In fact, a vast majority of workers would prefer their employers stick to tried and true communication methods - mailings to home and e-mail."

Currently, more than 8 in 10 (82%) respondents said that in the last year, they received information on their health benefits (i.e. health insurance, health fairs, etc.) from their employer through mailings to their home; 58% said they received information through e-mails. About one-half (47%) obtained information on their company's web site. When asked how interested would they be in receiving health benefit information via social media, about three in four said they had no interest in getting this information via Facebook; slightly more - approximately 80% -- had no interest in receiving a tweet (Twitter) with health benefit information. Virtually all respondents said they would prefer receiving this information via regular mailings to their homes or via emails.

The survey also found that younger and higher income workers have more interest in receiving health benefits information via social media than older and lower income workers. Among employees who expressed an interest in social media, respondents had the greatest interest in receiving updates via Facebook and were most interested in receiving information on how to save money on health care.

"Despite the current low interest level among workers, at some point social media will begin to resonate especially as young employees enter the workforce and older ones retire. And there are steps employers can begin to take," said Darling. "When developing a communication campaign, employers should consider what the message will focus on and choose a media type that marries well with it. Employers may also want to consider a test pilot with a single location or segment of the employee population."

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