Guest Blog by John Deacon, Head of Employee Benefits at Buck
A company’s benefits structure should never be static; regular reviews and updates are absolutely essential for making it an effective tool in the workplace. This dynamic approach to benefits can pay huge dividends in areas ranging from employee engagement to staff retention. Taking the time at the start of 2019 to improve the benefits offering will ensure that the company is future-proofed against the changing needs of staff that can occur throughout the year.
Knowing what’s working
All too often, HR teams are itching to roll out new and exciting benefits without truly knowing how they will be received. However, before the business even begins looking at how it can improve its benefits package, it first needs to know what is working well right now.
After all, the best method to establish whether any new benefits are likely to succeed is knowing how previous initiatives have fared. Reinventing the wheel is obviously not needed if staff are enjoying the benefits that are currently on offer.
Reviewing how previous benefits have been received is actually a very simple process. Regardless of what software they are using, HR departments can normally do a deep dive into the data, segment the initiatives by various factors such as level, job role and life stage and produce a set of clear results.
This information makes it very easy to create an effective employee benefits strategy. For example, if middle managers are less engaged with the benefits on offer compared to the rest of the company, HR can begin developing initiatives that appeal to this particular demographic, perhaps by surveying this group to determine which benefits they would find most rewarding.
Once the company understands what benefits are working – and which are not – it can begin to look forward. Benefits are one initiative that runs across the whole organisation, so ensuring the business gets input from all of its employees isa priority. Depending on the size of the workforce, this feedback can be collected through company-wide surveys or by speaking to a cross-section of staff that represent the entire business.
Whatever the process, one thing remains the same: this type of communication needs to be a two-way street. Employees should feel confident in speaking up about how engaging the company’s benefits offering is, and senior management should feel comfortable responding to this feedback by noting down any workable ideas and also explaining any limitations or concerns where necessary.
This ‘social contract’ between staff and employers not only allows for a better review of the benefits package, but also helps the business across all areas, allowing improved communication and transparency at every level. In turn, this will allow for more consistent and regular feedback on the benefits system, ensuring that the HR department can readily adapt what is on offer.
Staying ahead of the curve
Alongside this feedback process, companies can analyse the relevant data from their HR systems to gain insights into how employee benefits are being redeemed. Looking at engagement levels over an extended period can quickly highlight when certain trends are tapering off and which are on the rise.
Depending on how engaged the workforce has been over the review period, the company has a range of decisions to make. If particular benefits have seen considerable uptake, HR can build upon their successes and perhaps expand them even further. Alternatively,if certain offerings are consistently failing to attract any interest, HR can scale back these benefits to reflect reduced employee appetite for these perks.
However,staying ahead of the curve is not just about planning future benefits or scaling back the current offering; it is also taking the decision to drop some benefits that are not working at all. This can often be a real challenge, as very few benefits will have a zero percent engagement. However, clear communication and an equally engaging replacement will ensure that those staff losing out on the initiative will more easily accept any changes in this area.
With benefits forming a key part of the employee offering, making sure the business is constantly reviewing and amending its programme continues to meet the needs of all employees – both existing and prospective. Combining hard data with transparent communication between staff and employers will not only deliver the benefits that employees want, but also will ensure that the company’s benefits package is more desirable than its competitors.