4 Keys to Designing an Optimum Benefits Strategy

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Five generations of employees coexist in the workplace today. As a result, a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits no longer works. Millennials, baby boomers, Gen. X, Gen. Z, and the traditionalists all value different kinds of benefits, from retirement to well-being support.

However, a word of caution is necessary here. While grouping employees’ personal goals and concerns based on age can provide HR teams with a starting point for personalized benefits, we urge benefits professionals to go beyond the stereotypes. Look at employee needs in relation to what really matters to them.

Here are four ways for employers to ensure employees are happy, healthy, and more engaged with their benefits:

1. Give Employees the Right Kinds of Access

In our “Global Employee Benefits Watch” report, we at Thomsons Online Benefits found that the way employees access their benefits is crucial to their engagement with those benefits.

Employees who access benefits through face-to-face interactions with their employers are the most satisfied with their method of benefit management (46 percent satisfaction rate), followed by those who use email (44 percent) and those who use a computer (42 percent). While mobile access to benefits didn’t have the highest level of satisfaction, it did have the lowest level of dissatisfaction, with only 14 percent of employees who access benefits on mobile saying they were dissatisfied with the method.

However, these access preferences are not being met across the board. More than 50 percent of employees said they were either unsatisfied with their benefits access or did not have the option to access benefits in their preferred way. In light of this fact, employers must rethink how accessible their benefits programs are.

2. Prioritize Flexibility

As the composition of the workforce continues to shift over the coming years, employers will need to adopt agile, flexible ways to deliver benefits effectively.

For example, technology company Arm worked with its diverse mix of employees to create a program called “FlexPot,” an annual pot of money employees can spend on their well-being in whatever ways work best for them. This approach to benefits allows Arm to support each individual employee’s wellness without imposing a one-size-fits-all package on its workforce.

3. Promote Wellness

Benefits professionals need to consider employee wellness holistically in order to effectively promote physical and mental well-being.

For example, life insurance provider John Hancock announced in September it would no longer offer policies that do not include digital fitness tracking. While digital fitness tracking and its attendant incentive programs form one approach to promoting holistic well-being, this is not the only way. Improvements to employees’ day-to-day experiences though office yoga classes, debt counseling, and other offerings can go a long way in this regard.

According to the “Global Employee Benefits Watch” report, employers could stand to do the most improving when it comes to mental wellness support. While the report found that 57 percent of employees want support in this regard, only 23 percent of employers offer mental wellness benefits.

4. Increase Engagement

Higher employee engagement produces higher productivity rates, better customer service, and stronger loyalty. As many organizations are coming to realize, boosting engagement requires an integrated approach that considers every aspect of the employee experience, from workplace environment to management practices.

Our report found that giving employees easy access to their benefits and providing sufficient support can have a significant impact on engagement as well. Eighty-one percent of employees who can easily access their benefits said they felt loyal to their employers. Furthermore, 79 percent of employees who can easily access their benefits said they were proud to work for their organization; among employees who found it difficult to access their benefits, only 37 percent said the same.

Today, competition for talent is increasing, and employees are increasingly looking for employers that support them in meeting their personal goals. A personalized benefits package can make all the difference in attracting and retaining top talent in this environment.

Chris Bruce is managing director and cofounder of Thomsons Online Benefits.

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Chris is managing director and cofounder of Darwin and has been in the benefits industry for more than 20 years. Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, Chris's main focus is on the development of new markets and engagement with global clients. He loves meeting with CHROs and reward leaders to support them in staying one step ahead of the rapidly changing benefits landscape.