Learning & Development Asia 2024
Thinking big: How to go beyond the one-size-fits-all employee benefits package
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Thinking big: How to go beyond the one-size-fits-all employee benefits package

Modern workforces are more diverse than ever, encompassing different generations, backgrounds, and lifestyles. So how can your benefits offerings stay a step ahead?

This article is brought to you by Howden.

Now more than ever, we are seeing nearly five generations in the workplace at once.

A decade ago, Singapore’s workforce of 3mn was made up of approximately 3% Traditionals (who we know in Singapore as the ‘Merdeka’ generation), 38% Baby Boomers (many of whom are known as the ‘young seniors’), 39% Xers, and 20% Generation Y. Today, Gen Z represents just under a third of Singapore’s population, quickly followed by the entry of Gen Alpha into the workforce.

As the World Economic Forum aptly puts it: “Work is changing. Not just when we work, how, where or the tools we use — but crucially, who is working.”

Naturally, the needs of the workforce are evolving in tandem. Such unprecedented levels of diversity reflect a profound shift in what employees value in their careers. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all health insurance packages and paid time-off for employees. Instead, there is a greater demand for more nuanced and in-depth benefits, such as better mental health support, wellness programmes, and flexible working conditions.

Primus Lee, Executive Director, Head of Employee Benefits, Howden Singapore, explains: "Employees now expect benefits that cater to their individual needs and preferences rather than a generic package."

Evidently, the impact is farther reaching than just generational norms. Preferences of employees today are based on their life stage, lifestyle, family setups, and peer-to-peer comparisons.

The good news is that the advancement of technology has enabled increasingly personalised and flexible benefit solutions that are more easily accessible to employees. “Not only that, technology and tools also help employers understand their workforce better and offer more tailored benefits", Primus adds.

Keeping all this in mind, it may be time for you to re-look at your benefits package: Are your offerings addressing what your talent truly need – and value? How well are they contributing to overall engagement and retention, while staying within budget? How flexible and customisable is your portfolio?

Understandably, it may be tough to tackle a complete rehaul, but it is not as complicated as you think — let’s have a look at how HR & rewards leaders can embark on this journey, stress free.

How to start overhauling your employee strategies

First things first – HR leaders and people managers are placing greater focus on personalisation and flexibility in their benefits offerings, and this needs to be reflected in any overhaul.

The most crucial step is to gain a deeper understanding of your employees’ sentiments. As Primus advises, this implies knowing what your employees need, and what they truly value. Simple but impactful ways to listen better include conducting regular employee surveys and organising focus groups to gather valuable insights into their preferences and requirements.

Leaders, he adds, can also leverage data analytics to identify trends and patterns in employee needs, which can help in creating more targeted and effective benefit programmes.

By analysing key data points such as employee demographics, preferences, utilisation patterns of existing benefits, and feedback from surveys, you will be able to gain a nuanced understanding of what genuinely makes a difference in your offerings. For instance, data can reveal if certain benefits are underutilised or if there are emerging preferences for new types of benefits among specific groups of employees.

"Of course, keeping up with industry trends and benchmarking against other companies is also going to be very important when you’re trying to get out of the one-size-fits-all box."

Primus Lee

"This ensures you stay competitive, and your benefits remain relevant,” Primus affirms. In turn, it naturally positions the organisation ahead in attracting and retaining top talent.

"Having a broker like Howden by your side is extremely helpful for this, as we live and breathe employee benefits and have deep expertise in the topic."

Unlocking and sustaining utilisation

Once you’ve gained a better understanding of employee preferences and are on the journey of refining your employee offerings accordingly, the next important step is to foster a culture of continuous improvement. Building on his advice above, Primus recommends implementing regular feedback channels such as surveys, suggestion boxes, and town hall meetings, as these are avenues that ensure employees have a voice and that their needs are continuously assessed.

It is also helpful to regularly analyse how benefits are being used, as this is where benefits decision makers will be able to identify which underutilised benefits can be adjusted or replaced with options that better suit employees’ needs.

The data unearthed from this analysis, when used in tandem with continuous benchmarking against industry standards, will not only ensure that as an employer, you are able to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, but it will go a long way in ensuring your offerings remain competitive and relevant, Primus affirms.

Designing sustainable yet cost-effective benefits

Lastly, it is hard to ignore one of the biggest considerations — optimising costs.

As Primus highlights: “Always remember to consider cost, resource implications, and long-term viability when making changes to ensure alignment with organisational goals.”

Offering personalised benefits may seem costly at first, but this more sustainable option can, in fact, optimise your budget over time. By aligning benefits with employee needs, employers can, in turn, reduce turnover, enhance productivity, and improve overall employee wellbeing and engagement. This comes to life when employees understand what their benefits package entails, and thus they feel more empowered to take ownership of their health, wellness, and performance.

Balancing costs involves strategic planning and a focus on long-term value. HR leaders would benefit from conducting thorough cost-benefit analyses to understand the potential return on investment of personalised benefits.

In another dimension of strategic planning, employers may look at utilising technology to effectively streamline benefit administration. Having in place the right platform can help alleviate administrative burden, optimise costs and resource allocation, as well as maximise efficiency. This leaves HR leaders more time to truly enhance their benefits offerings, creating a more comprehensive and holistic approach.

An example of such technology is Howden’s MediHub, a platform that offers employees self-service options to reduce administrative costs and increase efficiency for HR teams. Employees can access their health benefits directly through a mobile app with a 24/7 medical concierge, freeing up time and stress from HR teams.

Most importantly, any sustainable benefits programme requires close relationships and negotiation with benefits providers/insurers, to provide better rates and more flexible options. HR leaders may choose to get in touch with the team at Howden — as a leading employee benefits consultancy, it has over 2,000 dedicated professionals supporting businesses in over 100 countries, with the mission to develop benefits and wellbeing programmes that help attract, motivate and retain the best talent.

Find out how you can partner with Howden to take your employee benefits strategy to the next level.


Lead image / 123rf.com

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