C&B professionals are looking for ways to boost returns from existing benefits programmes, be it through improving employee engagement, or through delivery of better business value.
This article is brought to you by Aon.
Be it retail (59%), professional services (63%), or the tech sector (56%), employers in APAC’s most vibrant sectors admit to facing a common challenge in their employee benefits strategy – the increasing costs of employee benefits plans.
In fact, a consolidated assessment of the sectors covered in Aon's Asia Pacific Employee Benefit Trends Report identified ‘increasing benefit plan costs’ as the #1 challenge (55%), followed by the challenge of ensuring ‘benefits offer diversity/options/flexibility’ (54%), and finally, ‘benefits being perceived to be below market practice’ (45%).
Let’s consider the top-ranked employer challenge on increasing benefits costs against the backdrop of the International Monetary Fund’s latest economic outlook: “Although inflation has declined as central banks have raised interest rates and food and energy prices have come down, underlying price pressures are proving sticky, with labour markets tight in a number of economies.”
Evidently, cost pressures are expected to persist and as such, C&B professionals are looking for ways to boost ROI from existing benefits programmes, be it through improving employee metrics such as engagement or productivity, or through delivery of better business value. In doing so, technology can be pivotal to overcome the potential barriers around monitoring benefits uptake and usage patterns, effective communication, and understanding employee motivation.
Here are four data-backed ways in which the right technology platform can increase ROI on your employee benefits programme.
#1 A consumer-grade employee experience
Over a quarter (28%) of the 525 APAC employers covered in the report cited previously reported a rise of more than 5% in employee turnover during the 12 months prior to July 2022, largely due to better opportunities elsewhere.
On the other hand, progressive employers have vowed to step up their employee experience efforts in a bid to more closely mirror the experience they are creating for their consumers. After all, employees who have a better experience accessing their employee benefits will be more engaged with the options available.
More engagement can lead to improved health and wellbeing, and a greater sense of belonging among employees, which can in turn improve company profit, customer service, and employee retention.
According to Aon’s 2022-2023 Global Wellbeing Survey Report, company performance can be enhanced by 11% to 55% by improving overall employee wellbeing, creating a culture and climate of wellbeing, improving the performance of wellbeing initiatives, and by increasing the funding of wellbeing programmes.
Where technology can help:
- A user-friendly digital employee benefits web portal or ‘hub’ makes it easy for employees to access the health, benefits and wellbeing tools and content they care about – all in one place.
- Automated processes can reduce the administrative effort required to input, transfer and set-up benefits programmes across an organisation.
- A highly customisable technology platform can help streamline processes across a global infrastructure.
- Not only does the initial setup require fewer resources, the ongoing benefits management also reduces the effort involved.
#2 What employees want vs what they actually need
Employee health data is one way of getting an unbiased picture of overlooked gaps and opportunities to provide support – however, determining what employees genuinely need is rather challenging. Insufficient data to enable informed decisions has proved to be a prominent challenge — two in five (40%) of respondents admit they have insufficient data to make informed decisions about benefits.
Where technology can help:
- Companies can access critical and granular health information based on the services employees are accessing as a whole, and drill down into specific risks.
- Reports on key personal health metrics at an aggregated level — and anonymised to protect individual privacy — can guide decisions around physical and mental wellbeing.
- Technology-informed early intervention can help reduce long-term costs associated with chronic illness or problem debt.
#3 Overcome gaps in benefits engagement and usage
No one wants to pay for something that isn’t being used – yet, overuse of benefits is equally alarming, so where do employers find that balance?
Considering that one-third of respondents (34%) say better workforce health profile data would be helpful for future decision-making, a comprehensive dashboard offered by technology platforms may just be the solution.
Where technology can help:
- Companies can analyse data by employee demographics, such as, are employees accessing benefits intended to enhance wellbeing? Are benefits being utilised across the employee population?
- For multinational businesses, a global technology platform can facilitate a benchmark for benefits uptake across different geographies, helping to better understand cultural nuances and geographical opportunities.
- Dashboards allow employers to benchmark engagement, comparing to historic performance or highlight disproportionate engagement levels across the different benefits available.
- By overlaying with life stage data, this data could reveal trends for further investigation. For example, perhaps parents or guardians are adding minor dependents to health or dental insurance but not using emergency childcare support.
#4 Demystify communication to improve awareness
Awareness is typically the first barrier to employee benefits engagement — after all, if employees aren’t aware of the array of benefits available to them, uptake will invariably be lower. Multi-faceted benefits strategies further need clear communication to drive engagement.
Yet, “communication about benefits choice” was noted as a key challenge identified by respondents from every sector. Of course, HR managers and C&B professionals want the best for employees — they mean well, but they are not internal communication experts. They may not have the time, or sometimes even the knowledge or skills, to adequately communicate with employees about their benefits. This could possibly explain the discrepancy between employee expectations and the current challenges in reality.
Technology can help fill this gap by facilitating a sophisticated communication strategy, which can include messaging tailored to employees’ life stages.
Where technology can help:
- Running short pulse surveys via a push notification can be a good litmus test for employee awareness and education. Are employees not engaged because they aren’t aware of the benefits available? Or are they aware but don’t understand them fully?
- Experimentation is facilitated by technology; digital communication enables employers to run sophisticated A/B testing on communications, with or without support from Aon’s health and benefits team, while live dashboarding showcases the impact and result.
- A technology platform that combines health, benefits and wellbeing tools, events and content in one place to drive a more integrated, multi-pillar approach, which was identified as a core need by Aon’s Global Wellbeing Survey Report, cited previously.
Building a tech-enabled benefits strategy around moments that are important to employees
Effectively engaging employees, enhancing benefits data management, and amplifying employee wellbeing has been made possible with Aon’s health and benefits digital solution. Historically, the resources required to implement or switch employee benefits platforms may have been off-putting, but Aon’s seamless system makes it easier for organisations to adopt a future-ready benefits platform.
Poised to address all challenges that drive effective engagement with an integrated health, benefits and wellbeing strategy, Aon's ‘The Benefits Solution’ is renowned for:
- Providing a simple, connected and accessible one-stop digital ‘hub’ where employees can access the health, benefits, wellbeing tools and content they care about – all in one place – without needing to visit multiple locations.
- Data-driven communications based on genuine insight.
- Increased utilisation by making benefits easy to understand and access.
- Data and analytics capabilities that enable insights to measure success and continually improve.
- A strong tech stack, powered by global reach and volume of data.
- Data security that protects employee information to ensure better governance.
Aon plc (NYSE: AON) exists to shape decisions for the better — to protect and enrich the lives of people around the world. Its consultants provide clients in over 120 countries and sovereignties with advice and solutions that give them the clarity and confidence to make better decisions to protect and grow their business.
The Asia Pacific Employee Benefit Trends Report is based on views of more than 500 respondents with regional or global responsibilities, or with local market responsibilities. There was a strong response rate from the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, and India, among other locations.
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