Earn Employee Loyalty through Benefits Technology

As organizations continue to compete for talent, they are realizing the integral role that benefits play in attracting and retaining the right employees. This is evidenced in our Global Employee Benefits Watch research, which surveyed 2,200 employees from companies around the world and found that only 15% of candidates don’t ask about benefits at all during the interview process. In fact, benefits have a huge role to play not only in attracting talent, but in influencing employees feelings about their current employer. Eighty percent of employees who said they have a good variety of benefits to choose from also said they identified strongly with their organization’s vision and values, as opposed to 40% of those who don’t. Market-leading organizations recognize this and to attract the best candidates and keep current employees happy, more and more employers are working to improve their benefits programs. While offering tailored benefits is important, much of the impact on employee loyalty is lost if these benefits aren’t easily accessible.

Giving employees easy access to their benefits information seems simple enough, yet over 50% of employees say they can’t access their benefits in the way they prefer and just 21% of employees say they can easily access their benefits. Clearly, employers are still delivering benefits in ways that don’t resonate with their people. So, what action does this mean employers should take? How can organizations make sure their people take full advantage of what’s available to them? Our research shows that employees are looking for the same experience they have getting information in their personal lives to be mirrored at work – one of the main aspects being the ability to consume information in a variety of ways. Using a number of communication options, including those driven by tech, is the key to keeping employees engaged and happy.

Integrating technology-enabled communication methods really pays off. For example, 62% of employees prefer to use a laptop for research and information gathering and 40% prefer mobile. Technology’s prevalence in everyday life is pushing employers to make sure their benefits strategy is delivered through  intuitive HR tech with a seamless user experience.

While making sure employees can access benefit information online is critical, it’s also important to deliver this information through other methods too. The only method that beats email and computer access is discussing benefits face-to-face with an employer, with 46% of employees receiving information this way reporting being satisfied. Email and computer access were close behind with satisfaction levels at 44% and 42% respectively. When information is more complicated and personal, people often prefer an in-person conversation.

The numbers say it all. 81% of employees who can easily access their benefits said they feel loyal to their employer and 79% say they were proud to work for their organization. Easy access to benefits information keeps employees happy and has the potential to secure longevity. 77% of employees who understand their benefits offering said they saw themselves staying at their organization for the foreseeable future.

It’s encouraging that employers realize the need to offer better benefits options to their people. But too many are stopping there. Making sure employees have the information they need about their benefits is the next step in solidifying employee loyalty, influencing whether they recommend working there to a friend, and, arguably most importantly, decide to leave or stay. If employers are committed to attracting top talent and keeping their employees, they need to ensure their benefits not only meet their needs, but that they can access them in the most consumer-friendly way possible.

 

Advertisements
Employer Branding on Social Media: Best Examples

How to Build and Support Employee Wellness in the Workplace

1 in 5 adults in the US today is dealing with a mental health condition. This has a direct impact in the workplace for both employees and employers. The Depression Center at the University of Michigan found that depression is a leading cause of U.S. productivity loss with an annual cost of $44 billion to employers. The important role employers have in helping to support the mental health of their employees is more critical than ever, especially as our latest Global Employee Benefits Watch 2017/2018 research found that a concerning 64% of US employees feel that their workplace has a negative or very negative impact on their wellbeing. So how can employers better support their employees’ needs?

The need for a tailored, comprehensive benefits program

Many employers struggle to recognize the importance of their benefits offerings in fostering mental health. Companies need to evolve their benefits programs to meet the shifting needs of today’s employees. Our research found a disconnect between the support offered by employers, and the support employees actually want. This disconnect is especially pronounced in areas affecting employee wellness.

We can no longer view physical, mental or financial health in isolation. These different aspects of health all interconnect and influence employees’ sense of wellbeing. Workers who are anxious or ill are unlikely to operate at peak performance, and this can hugely impact a business’ bottom line.

Take mental health, for example: 56.5% of American adults suffering from mental health illnesses do not receive treatment. For those who sought out treatment, 20.1% reported they still had unmet treatment needs. Providing a health care plan that offers free or low-cost mental health treatment is imperative for helping to address these unmet needs.

When it comes to improving general wellness, 63% of the workforce has the goal of getting fit and healthy, yet only 30% think that their employer supports them in reaching this goal through their benefits program. That’s one of the reasons why many companies are turning to ‘wellness pots’, including us at Thomons, to give employees the flexibility to spend a set amount of money on anything that helps improve their wellness. We also offer Yoga classes on a Monday, boot camp on a Wednesday and Zumba classes on a Thursday to help promote and cultivate wellness. Getting moving and healthy together as an office has short-term endorphin payoffs and helps build and promote a culture of wellness within the workplace.

When considering which benefits best suit your employees, it’s important to consider generational differences. Younger employees in particular aren’t receiving the support they’re looking for from their employers. Traditional financial benefits such as a 401K are deisgned to meet the needs of an older workforce, which differ greatly from those of millennials. Buying a home is a goal for 74% of 18-35s – yet only 4% feel that their benefits scheme supports this. Employees who feel unsupported by their employer are less likely to engage with the business and their work. In order to avoid a lack of engagement from their staff, employers need to reassess the type of support they offer younger employees.

How to take action

To start, employers need to take steps to thoroughly understand what employees’ want in regard to wellbeing, and commit to supporting these wants through their benefits program. After the new benefits are in place, companies must effectively communicate them to their people. Employees can only engage with wellbeing benefits if they’re aware of them. Therefore, employers need to take into account whether their employees are more likely to read a text, pick-up a flyer or take part in a one-on-one chat. Finally, employers need to consider how best to encourage benefits take-up. The best way to do this is by providing a positive user experience. Mobile-first, easy-to-understand software is critical for engaging employees in their benefits plans and improving their overall perception of their employer.

With more Americans than ever before suffering from serious psychological distress, it’s clear that today’s employees are dealing with an unprecedented number of mental health issues. Employers need to play their part in addressing it. Helping improve employee mental health does not have to be a complicated task. Simply adjusting benefits in a strategic way can positively impact employees’ experiences, therefore improving how they feel and perform in the workplace.

When wellbeing is addressed correctly, the picture is much more positive. Employees who say that their benefits needs are met receive 76% more wellbeing initiatives and have 58% more life goals supported from their employer. This loyalty pays off, as these employees are twice as likely to recommend their employer to a friend, say they have a positive experience at work, and be proud to work for their company. The message for employers is clear: prioritize offering the best wellbeing benefits for your workforce, and you’ll reap rewards in employee engagement, attraction, and retention.

Improving Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Employers Should Turn to Tech

Improving Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Employers Should Turn to Tech

Winter is often the time associated with mental health issues, chalked up to the “winter blues,” but mental health struggles can hit at any time. Employers need to recognize employees’ need for mental health support as a year-round concern. This should be considered especially pressing since our recent Global Employee Benefits Watch report found that 64% of Americans feel their workplace has a negative impact on their wellbeing. Investing in wellness tools that educate employees on mental health and help them cope with work stressors is one way organizations can provide support.

By accurately providing care for their employees, employers can create a more balanced and productive workplace throughout the year. One simple but effective solution is to use technology to make mental health treatment easier and more accessible than ever before. Many people turn to technology, specifically mobile apps, to monitor and maintain their own mental wellbeing. Employers should take advantage of the opportunity to provide extra support to their employees via technology.

Why turn to tech?

According to a recent Rock Health report, two of the top funded areas of digital health were healthcare consumer engagement and digital therapies. In the first half of 2017 alone, companies in these categories raised $556 million. These applications are diverse, ranging from telemedicine platforms that enable remote access to care to interactive apps that track emotional fluctuations to daily motivational text messaging services.

The growth in the number and range of mental health apps comes at a time when mental health services are under unprecedented strain. Of the total population of American adults living with mental illness, 56.5% did not receive treatment and, for those seeking treatment, 20.1% reported they still had unmet treatment needs. Employers are realizing they can implement tools to help employees address these treatment needs.

For many, mental health is a topic that is difficult to discuss, either with their employers or a healthcare professional. Technology provides another avenue to monitor how you are feeling and suggest coping mechanisms.

How do employers benefit?

Increasing numbers of people are in need of mental health support. Yet, according to our research only 40% of employers prioritize wellbeing in their benefits strategy. This is a significant missed opportunity for employers. Supporting mental wellbeing can lead to improved employee engagement, reduced absence rates, and higher productivity.

Many employers are realizing the full cost of ignoring their employees’ mental wellbeing. According to the Center for Workplace Mental Health, depression alone costs employers $44 billion each year. Investing $1 in depression and anxiety treatment leads to a $4 return in better health and work performance.

What can employers do?

Employers need to invest in software that enables employees to access mental health support on their own terms, wherever and whenever they choose.

Wellbeing apps can form one part of this care, but they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Flexible wellness pots offer another solution. With the right software they can be approachable and easy-to-use, giving employees an allowance to spend on their own wellbeing as they see fit. Employees can select wellbeing benefits or choose to be reimbursed, all through a consumer-friendly user experience. This flexibility can remove some of the barriers to care that exist today.

How can we support mental health in the long-term?

Apps or flexible wellness pots can open the door for the use of more sophisticated tools, such as data analytics. Thomsons’ recent Global Employee Benefits Watch 2017/18 report found that employers with developed global benefits strategies and systems in place are able to transition to using advanced tools more easily. They can use data and analysis to help identify the root cause of employee stress and create workplaces that foster mental wellbeing and boost happiness well before problems arise.

Analyst Josh Bersin cites one forward-thinking employer who used smart badges to monitor employees’ movements at work. The data revealed that the biggest contribution to employee happiness was walking around the office. Through this analytic process, business leadership came up with a simple solution – relocating conference rooms to encourage more movement.

Analytics can also help employers create data-driven benefits profiles, which can be used to present individuals with the wellness benefits that suit them best. When employees are aware of the benefits that fit their specific needs, they are more likely to take advantage of them. Putting the technology in place that enables this process is key.

Employees’ mental health care should always be a top priority for employers. But identifying and implementing the most effective care will never be an easy task. This process can be made infinitely less complex by technology. Employers can now use wellness apps and wellness pots to give employees the tools to help themselves, while simultaneously conducting data analysis to determine the best way they can support them. By allowing technology to assist them in keeping their employees healthy, happy and productive, employers will create a workplace that fosters a positive culture an unprecedented amount of success.

The Majority of Americans Believe Their Workspace Negatively Impacts Their Well-being. Here’s How To Fix It.

From the worsening obesity epidemic to stress levels continuing to rise, American employees are struggling with their wellbeing. New research shows that a shocking 64% of American workers believe that their employer and workplace are having a negative or very negative impact on their wellbeing. But what’s behind this alarming statistic? And what can businesses do about it?

When it comes to employee wellness and the employee experience, we found that forward-thinking organizations are recognizing their employees’ needs and addressing them through dynamic benefits programs that support them in and outside of the workplace. Research shows that they’re reaping rewards for this. Bersin by Deloitte finds that organizations focused on creating a flexible and empowering workplace experience are five times more effective at improving employee engagement and retention than their peers. Meanwhile, businesses that do not tailor the employee experience to support their workers will find themselves left behind. Companies that do want to gain a competitive advantage should focus on establishing a wellness program, looking for ways to go beyond traditional benefits, and digitizing the HR process.

Establish a wellness program

Wellbeing initiatives can take many forms, but flexible wellness pots, which enable employees to spend a wellbeing allowance in a way that suits them, are gaining in popularity. In a world where employees increasingly wish to be recognized as individuals, this approach enables organizations to cater for their personal preferences, be they for a diet program or meditation class. Surveying employees can also help to determine which wellness benefits they would value most, gym memberships for example, or counseling services to support them in times of need.

Nick Lawry, Reward Manager at Virgin Management, believes that benefits have never been more vital in ensuring the wellbeing and peace of mind of employees, notably as part of offering a fantastic employee experience. From offering financial education through to super flexible working and unlimited annual leave, they try to give people the benefits and the flexibility that allow them to take control and make the choices that are best for them.

Go beyond traditional

Promoting holistic employee wellness demands going beyond just health and fitness benefits. Financial concerns can have a significant negative impact on the mental health of employees – one Harris poll found that 82% of employees are under financial stress. Our research also indicates that they would appreciate having personal goals in this area of their lives supported by their employers. Outside of salary and retirement plans, employees would like employers to support broader financial needs, such as saving to buy a home or debt management. When we consider that over half of US employees aspire to buy a home, but less than one in twenty benefits programs cater for this life goal, the opportunity for employers to seize the initiative and support this need is clear.

Having flexible benefits that are customized to employee life goals sets companies apart and transforms them into great places to work. Pharmaceutical innovators Mundipharma recognized this, and in addition to its core benefits, launched a new range aligned to its employees’ lifestyles and designed to give them more choice. This additional selection ‘pot’ of benefits, called “Flex”, achieved staggering results. Since the rollout of Flex, 96% of employees have ‘flexed’ their benefits and employee turnover has reduced by 45% within 18 months. Meanwhile, the time to fill job openings has reduced from 50-days on average to just 28. Perhaps most importantly, engagement also improved and 90% of those who flexed their benefits regularly said they’d still “be working here in a year’s time.”

Digitize the benefits process

Employees are looking for an employer who will make a positive impact on their day-to-day lives. For companies to accomplish this, HR departments need to spend more time on transformational activities that focus on culture, engagement and employer brand. HR can free up time for this by automating and digitizing more processes. This is one of the reasons adoption of global and regional shared service centers as well as global human capital management (HCM) and global benefits technology are all on the rise. Working with top companies around the globe, I’ve seen firsthand what having a more digitized, globally-driven strategy that’s better aligned with people and business strategy can do. Achieve this, and organizations won’t just reduce admin and improve compliance – they’ll see an increase in benefits engagement, which will domino into workplace engagement, and have a positive impact on how employees feel about their organizations.

Companies with an established global benefits strategy and technology that supports the implementation of this are three times more likely to see a reduction in administration errors and twice as likely to see a reduction in benefits overcharges. The implementation of those benefits further help the company’s bottom line by creating a positive, supportive working environment that reduces the current disconnect between employers and employees around the workplace experience, attracting and retaining staff for the long haul.

Ultimately, the best companies are creating amazing global strategies and have the technology in place to deliver these so that employees really feel the benefits. They’re happier and healthier and they enjoy being at work. This is what will keep them an engaged and productive member of your organization.