Benefits Technology: Employee Experience 

Fierce competition for talent, evolving employee needs and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) agendas mean organisations are spending more on employee benefits than ever before.

Despite this, according to our latest Benefits Technology 2023 report, just 59% of employees say the benefits provided meet their needs.

This is in no small part due to benefits offering growing organically over time, with new benefits being added as and when they seemed appropriate. Although well-intentioned, the cumulative impact of these disjointed solutions has made it difficult for employees to understand the purpose of their benefits package and find the benefits they need.

Fortunately, digitisation of benefits has a vital role to play when it comes to making choice a perk, and not a burden, with almost three quarters (74%) of those who have access to benefits technology saying they can personalise their benefits package to meet their needs. Compared to just one in two (52%) employees overall.

Enabling employees to easily see the full range of benefits on offer also made them feel more loyal towards their employer. Seven out of ten employees who said they had access to ten or more benefits said that the level of support made them less likely to move elsewhere, compared to just four out of ten employees with access to just 1-4 benefits.

Benefits automation also makes it easier for employees to see just how much their employer is spending on them, by making it possible to calculate ‘total reward statements’. These break down the monetary value of every benefit, ranging from their pension to their dental insurance. This is important as most people have no idea how many thousands their employer is spending to protect their health and physical, social and financial wellbeing.

Supporting people in the moments that matter

Unfortunately, not all benefits technology is alike, as the consumer interface the employee sees is just the tip of the iceberg. Critical to delivering truly personalised benefits is ensuring the behind-the-scenes data insights and automated communications are also able to deliver.

This is especially important for supporting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) agendas, as these have moved beyond simply attempting to put people in buckets, by saying ‘you’re a woman’, ‘you’re an ethnic minority’ or ‘you’re an aging employee’. Instead, employees want to be treated as individuals and supported in the moments that matter, be this the birth of their child, their car breaking down or being given a cancer diagnosis.

That’s why it’s no longer enough to have a diverse benefit offering in place, you also need to be able to automatically connect employees to the benefits they need in the moments that matter. Be this an automated email to congratulate them on their wedding and invite them to add their partner to their healthcare policy. Or a personalised message with their health insurance policy and the number they need to call to initiate cancer treatment.

HR teams that attempt to do this, without automation, will not only inevitably fail to recognise some employees, but are also prone to making errors, or causing data breeches, when sending such personalised communications by hand.

Instead, employers that use data-driven automation can avoid human error and transcend the jumbled-up mess that many benefits offerings have now become, to hold their employees’ hands in the moments that matter. This reminds employees that their employer is there for them, in a way that engenders loyalty and engagement.

Aligning to wider business goals

With a healthy, loyal and engaged workforce no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a business-critical differentiator, it’s also becoming increasingly important to link benefits technology to the wider business goals. So, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a third of CEOs and CFOs now recognise the need to invest in technology that improves the employee experience.

Critical to this is consolidating benefits to reinforce the culture and values the organisation most wants to be seen to be living by. Once this ‘guiding star’ has been identified, the next step is to review to what extent is the employee benefits offering supports or hinders this.

If the organisation wants to be sustainable, have the benefits been reviewed with a green lens? If it wants to be inclusive, is healthcare available to those most in need or only the highest paid employees? If it wants to hire more digital employees, are the benefits suited to younger workers, who are more susceptible to financial worries and loneliness? Or just older workers approaching retirement, who value health screening and extra life insurance?

To better meet the needs of all employees, without simply adding more into the mix and driving up cost and confusion, three in five (58%) HR professionals are now prioritising consolidating technology, brokerage and consulting with a single advisor.

This is a prudent step that will enable the left ‘analysing’ brain to talk to the right ‘strategising’ brain, so that data can be reviewed to create a digital benefits strategy that not only supports employees but also the wider business.

Guy Clarkson
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