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How to find benefits that really work for your business

Posted on from Thomsons Online Benefits

How can technology and data analytics help you develop a more strategic approach to benefits?

The war for talent

As Bersin said recently: ‘The war for talent is over, and talent won.’  In the early millennium the employee grew more powerful than the overarching company when the war for talent was raging. While this balance of power briefly swung back to the company during the financial crisis, due to supply and demand, the ball is now firmly back in the employees’ court. Our latest research echoes this.

In our Global Employee Benefits Watch report we found that 41% of global employers want to increase headcount by 1-15% over the next year. While this is positive news for businesses and the wider global economy, this shift in power means companies will need to devise more creative methods of attracting, retaining and motivating employees in order to meet these targets. 

Tailoring benefits to your workforce

Until relatively recently, many employers were taking a one-size-fits all approach to employee benefits. Now, however, more are waking up to the fact that this strategy does not generate the best return on investment for its benefits and reward spend in today’s increasingly multi-generational workforce.

Many employees do not see the value in a number of the benefits – simply because they may not be personally relevant. A single twenty-something, for example, may not appreciate private medical cover as they’re fit and well, but may be more attracted to Zumba classes or personal training sessions. This means that offering blanket benefits increases company investment in this area, whilst risking a reduction in the value of the benefit as it’s not relevant to all individuals. 

This is where technology and data analytics can play a critical role in HR. By data-mining your benefits information, you can take an in-depth look at employee data and identify trends in age, gender, and stage of life. This means employers can take a far more strategic approach to creating tailored benefits packages that will present real value for employees. 

Case study: Simplyhealth

This approach is something we’ve undertaken with a number of our clients, including Simplyhealth. With just under 1,400 employees, Simplyhealth has a diverse workforce. While the average employee age is 38, making it a relatively young company, there are also some more mature members of staff who have been there for more than thirty years.

Analysing employee data, Simplyhealth was able to better understand what its employees wanted, enabling the business to create a benefits package that truly addressed the variety of needs in the workforce. This includes a student loan matching scheme and a first home scheme for young employees, which 52 members of staff have already benefitted from. The option to buy and sell holiday time is also popular, along with the ‘Give as You Earn’ scheme and a package of tailor-made discounts that employees can access through Simplyhealth’s ‘My Discount’ platform.

Beyond package creation, technology and data analytics are helping businesses to better target communications around specific benefits. Two weeks before Christmas for example, Simplyhealth will offer hundreds of discounted products via its email and internal social media channel to employees that can be purchased online through group buying.

Responding to employee needs

You can also analyse platform activity to target benefits communications to certain times of day. If some groups tend to log in on Sunday night for example, this could present a good opportunity to tell them about new discounts, when perhaps they’re doing their online shopping. This is also important for employees that do not have access to a computer at work, such as retail or construction employees.

The business advantages/impact on the business of taking a tailored, data-driven approach is being felt in numerous ways.  A better run, more data-driven benefits programme means that a happier workforce can deliver better customer service and higher rates of employee engagement can lead to more discretionary effort from employees.

It means that HR teams are now acting far more like marketing teams – looking at what can be offered and how this can be communicated to employees so that the whole process is far more of a user-friendly, consumer-centric experience.

Matthew Gregson

Thomsons Online Benefits

Thomsons Online Benefits

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