Creating diverse and inclusive benefits programs 

Laughing Black women hugging and using laptop
The benefits of inclusive employee policies include a more diverse and engaged workforce.

Employers that wish to support a diverse workforce, need to offer inclusive benefits that meet the needs of all employees. Yet far too many traditional benefit plans are based on the “average employee” and framed around traditional life events.

This means that traditional benefit plans don’t take into account the diversity of your workforce, resulting in missed opportunities to make all your employees feel valued and engaged.

According to our Health on Demand survey, just three in twenty low-income workers have support for fitness, gyms and nutrition, compared to one in five employees with above average household incomes.

The changing nature of work also means that remote workers, at increased risk of musculoskeletal (MSK) issues, are also at risk of being overlooked. Low-income workers are also less likely to receive health insurance and short-term disability protection. While women and single mothers are the least confident they can afford healthcare; putting these groups, which typically include business-critical essential workers, at increased risk of sickness absence.

Inclusive benefits 'flip the pyramid'

Flip the pyramid to provide benefits to meet the needs of the full workforce
  • Top down
    Those at the top of the pyramid typically receive the most benefits, whereas vulnerable employees have unmet needs.
  • Bottom up
    Consider adding new supports for the full workforce
Traditional benefit design tends to support those at the top of the pyramid. ‘Flip the pyramid’ by opening up eligibility and adding new inclusive employee benefits, to support all employees.

Inclusive benefits boost engagement

Another way to introduce inclusive employee benefits is to increase the choice of benefits on offer. Although there are some benefits that most people want, there are others that a small portion of employees really value. Offering a broad range of support makes it more likely you will offer something for everyone.

Three quarters of employees who have access to ten or more health and well-being resources feel energized at work. 92% are confident they can afford the healthcare they need and three in five feel cared for by their employer. One in two employees also say that the benefits they are provided make them less likely to want to work elsewhere. (59% compared to 24% of those offered the least support.)

Over half (54%) of all employees would like to customize their benefits to meet their needs. Flexible benefits, which allow employees to tailor benefits to their individual needs can make them feel more valued and supported.

Three ways to create a diverse and inclusive benefits program

Look at how inclusive benefits can address DEI gaps
Look at your diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals to see if your employee benefits programme supports this. Identify where the gaps are and get the most from data and analytics to gain insights on what issues they most need support with.
Address health disparities with inclusive benefits
Look at the health disparities that exist within your organization, across demographics. Then identify inclusive employee benefits that can help to address these in ways that will also mitigate risk and discriminatory practices, such as mental health exclusions.
Increase choice and communication
Consider using an employee benefits broker who can offer a broader array of benefits, with global scale and local relevance, delivered via employee benefits software that will communicate the choice to employees and point them towards relevant benefits.
Explore how organizations that show they care for their employees are rewarded by a resilient and thriving workforce. In MMB’s Health on Demand 2023 global report we look at the relevance and value of benefits and how being a caring organization inspires workers to thrive.
About the author(s)
Amy Laverock

Global Advice & Solution Leader

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