When done right, effective employee benefits are proven to increase productivity, employee happiness, and ultimately, the company's bottom line.
However, implementing or enhancing employee benefits may seem like a waste of time and money — especially when it doesn't show any results or ROI.
Why is there such a disconnect?
From our experience in optimising employee benefits for multiple SME and MNC companies, one of the major sources of this disconnect comes from the mismatch expectations and priorities between the employer and employee.
In this article, we're going to explore deeper into why this disconnect happens. More importantly, what can you do to ensure your employee benefits are used effectively and achieve your desired ROI.
According to Randstad Malaysia 2021 Employee Brand Research report, work-life balance remains the most unmet employee need, and attractive salary & benefits comes second.
But why is there such a big disconnect?
We believe these are the 3 biggest factors widening the gap.
When the leadership enforces employee benefits without their employee's consent, the employees will likely ignore the benefits.
This is especially painful to the pocket when the company spends hundreds of thousands to roll out a new benefit only to find out it's not important or appreciated by their employees.
Employee benefits should be a collaboration between you and your employees.
By understanding what each employee needs, you can craft effective employee benefits that will improve your employees' lives as a whole. In turn, you will likely see increased productivity, engagement, and revenue.
Before implementing or enhancing your employee benefits, consider asking your employees about their condition (in and out of work) and find out their immediate and long-term needs.
If your company is small, a simple way to start is to hold one-on-one meetings with your employees and ask them. Questions like,
If your company is medium to big-sized, conduct a survey to get a pulse of your employees' condition and needs. Doing a company-wide survey might feel intimidating if you haven't done it before, but don't worry. We have a simple 5-step guide for you to find out the most important benefits perceived by your employees.
You might wonder why you need to take care of your employees' 'out of work' life as well, there's one thing you need to know.
More companies are emerging to offer a holistic employee benefits package that speaks to their employees' needs. The package can span from family healthcare, childcare, mental, to financial, and more.
The reason why employee benefits are shifting to a more holistic cover is that employers start to understand that personal problems will flow into their employees' work-life.
As a result, the employees can't focus, underperform, and affect the company's bottom line.
When the employee’s personal life becomes worry-free, they can focus their 100% at work.
In short: Ask your employees (face-to-face or survey) about their immediate and long-term needs, in and out of work, before changing your employee benefits package.
Here's the reality right now:
Employers rolled out 10 benefits, communicated them across the board, and after a few months, they analysed the benefits usage. It turns out that less than half of the benefits are used.
This is the 'take it or leave it' approach where each employee, old or young, male or female, on-site or remote, is exposed to the same benefits, whether it's relevant to them or not.
It's like you're throwing 10 darts blindly toward the target and hope one or two will land. Doing so not only wastes time and effort, but the money invested also goes down the drain.
So, what's the smarter way?
What if you could identify each employee's benefits usage and preferences, personalise the package according to their needs, and pay for only what they use?
Emerging HR technologies enabled such a level of personalisation and flexibility. Cool right?
With the power of data and technology, one look on the screen can instantly show you patterns of your employees' behaviours (in terms of benefits usage) and help you deliver personalised benefits to specific employees in a few clicks.
The best part is that at the end of the month, you're paying for only what was claimed, not covered.
Besides HR tech, another way to deliver personalised benefits is by using the Benefits Pyramid model.
Each benefit in your company is either important, appreciated, or unique.
A simple way to understand the differences are:
While each employee may prioritise some benefits over the other, it's easier to manage benefits personalisation when you group your employees according to their generation, job role, gender, family status, or health condition.
A common categorisation is by generation.
According to the Happiness Index 2019, each generation perceives different benefits as the most important and most appreciated to them.
With this data, you’ll have a great starting point to personalise your employee benefits based on their actual needs, not what you think they need.
In short: Using HR technology and knowing which benefit is the most important and most appreciated can help you further personalise the benefits according to their diverse needs.
Another reason why some employee benefits fall way behind is due to the way they are communicated.
If you think communicating employee benefits once is good enough, the statistics below will make you think again.
A survey by Maestro Health showed that 35% of employees either only somewhat understand, don't understand, or know nothing about their healthcare coverage.
Nearly 7 in 10 employees want to hear from business leaders about their benefits after they've already signed up for them.
The truth is that your employees are overwhelmed with information. They receive hundreds of emails and thousands of messages.
Chances are, your benefits communications are buried among them.
So, how do you ensure your employee benefits are communicated, understood, and used?
The rule of thumb is to keep employee benefits communications relevant and regular.
How to make benefits communications relevant?
You've already learned two ways to keep your employee benefits relevant: conduct a survey and personalise benefits according to the generations.
But when it comes to communicating relevant employee benefits, HR needs to do more than just broadcasting.
Say, your HR is about to send an email to refresh everyone's understanding about the company's employee benefits.
The question is, will everyone get the exact same email?
If you want to get your benefits communications announcement read and understood, here's a suggestion from us.
Next, you need to make the communication regular so that your employees will know which benefit to use when the time is right.
How to make benefits communications regular?
Reminding your employees about employee benefits every day will make you a spammer. But sending emails once a year will not be enough.
So, what's the sweet spot?
Sending one email per quarter is about right.
But don't stop there.
Encourage your managers and employees who have used some employee benefits to share their stories in team meetings.
All in all, keep these 3 questions in mind when strategising your employee benefits plan:
Perhaps, the most important question of all: Are we creating a great employee experience for all of our workers?