Are You Too Afraid to Ask Employees How Much They Value Their Benefits?

Fitness, woman taking a break, checking activity tracker, individual, exercise, workout

Benefits have traditionally been provided on a “one-size fits all” model, meaning some employees gain greater value than others.
Employees increasingly expect more personalized benefits that allow them to flex and utilize benefits depending on their particular needs and life stage. This allows employees to feel they are being treated equally independent of circumstances (i.e. single or married).

Break the mold with a ‘non-traditional’ approach which may include well-being incentives, opt-in/out insurance coverage and a design that allows individuals to claim parents’ expenses or pet care expenses.
Forward-thinking companies are on this journey but many aren’t as HR departments overestimate employee’s satisfaction with the status quo. Why? They’re afraid to ask.

The risk? Investing valuable budget on unused or underutilized benefits.

Get to know your employees better

Ask the tough questions! Gather feedback through engagement/“spot” surveys or focus groups, on what employees like and dislike in current offerings or what else would be beneficial. While it may be impossible to implement everything, it’s a great opportunity to engage.
Employees may also not know what they need. Use data analytics to better understand what types of benefits (especially health) are being used the most and what’s essential.
Are people reporting that they want more well-being incentives yet no one is taking advantage of your discounted gym membership offering? By combining qualitative and quantitative data, you can identify gaps. Sometimes that gap is not on the offer itself but rather the communication around it.

Communication is key

We often hear from HR, “Our employees have good knowledge of their benefits, we communicate them every year.” This is not enough.
Effective communication is key; employees are time-poor with little patience in reviewing fine print of policies (why not get feedback on their preferred channels of communication).
Find simple ways to communicate regularly, focusing on different benefit offerings. This can include infographics, interactive landing pages, videos or simply shorter, bite-sized information.

Don’t forget to tell employees why certain benefits are important--they don’t always know!

Flexible doesn’t always equate to $$$

Providing personalized benefits can be costly but it doesn’t have to be. It’s about taking your current budget and creatively investing in employees in a way that resonates. Another benefit is confidence in knowing your investment is being used.
Companies who invest the time in designing benefits that resonate with employees--throwing out the traditional approach by embracing new ways of more personalized thinking--will see a greater return on investment and a happier, more engaged workforce.

Alice Harkness
by Alice Harkness

Principal, Employee Health & Benefits Asia, Mercer Marsh Benefits