It’s Not Just the Benefits You Offer, But How They’re Accessed That Matters

As the competition for talent intensifies, companies are desperate to discover what they can do to attract the best employees. As a result, many employers are revamping their benefits offerings to better support current employees to improve retention, as well as to attract new recruits.

The Global Employee Benefits Watch report, which surveyed 2,200 employees from companies around the world, found that 85% of candidates ask about benefits at some point in the interview process.

Benefits are not only important to those job hunting, but also to current employees — evidenced in our research which shows that the variety and relevance of benefits have an important impact on employees’ views of their employers. 80% of employees who said they have a good variety of benefits to choose from also said they identified strongly with their organization’s vision and values, while only 40% of those who don’t have a variety of benefits available reported having this sentiment.

A quality benefits package is no longer a nice perk, but a necessity to any organization trying to attract and retain top performers. However, while offering a range of well-tailored benefits is a good start, organizations need to take the next step to make sure these benefits are also easily accessible if they want to ensure the benefits are used to their fullest, and therefore achieve a better return on investment for the organization.

If benefit take-up and appreciation is an objective of the program, then presenting benefits in a way that is easily accessible is the best way to get your employees’ attention. This sounds obvious, yet, over 50% of employees said they were either unsatisfied with their benefits management tools or they did not have the option to access their benefits in the way they preferred. So, what should employers provide? Access over email or face-to-face? Though mobile or desktop? The answer is all of the above. It is easy to meet individual employee preferences if a variety of communication methods are available.

Again, it’s a simple concept, but our survey shows only 21% of employees strongly agree that they can easily access their benefits. Clearly, employers are still delivering benefits in inconvenient ways and not seeking feedback from their people. Employees want the same experience of tech that they get outside of work brought into the workplace – one of the main aspects being the ability to consume information in a variety of ways. Having several types of communication options available, including those facilitated through technology, is the key to getting staff to engage with their benefits.

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Providing technology-enabled communication methods can really pay off. In fact, 42% of employees reported happily using a laptop to research and gather information about their benefits program. Technology’s popularity in everyday life is pushing employers to incorporate more HR tech into their benefits strategy.

While giving employees access to benefit information online is crucial, it’s also important to provide information through other methods. For example, 46% of employees receiving information face-to-face reported being satisfied, just barely beating out technology access. When discussing information that is more complicated and personal, people often prefer an in-person conversation.

Eighty-one percent of employees who can easily access their benefits said they feel loyal to their employer and 79% said they were proud to work for their organization. Easy access to benefits can make staff feel fulfilled, while also extending their time at a company. Seventy-seven percent of employees who understand the benefits offered to them said they saw themselves staying at their organization for the foreseeable future. Communicating benefits information in the way employees prefer keeps them satisfied and happy with their employer. The numbers say it all.

It is reassuring that companies are starting to understand the importance of offering better benefits options, but the work doesn’t stop there. Making sure employees have information about their benefits is what shapes how positively they see their company, whether or not they’ll recommend working there to a friend, and if they’ll decide to stay or look for other options. Commitment to attracting top talent and retaining the best employees means guaranteeing that benefits information is available through a variety of easily accessible methods

Chris Bruce is the managing director and co-founder of Thomsons Online Benefits. Chris led the development of Thomsons' first benefits administration technology platform, Darwin, as well as core intellectual property such as Intelligent Reward, a unique benefits strategy development methodology.

Under Chris’ leadership, Thomsons Online Benefits software is connecting employees with their benefits in over 69 countries and 18 languages, and is used by the world’s leading employers, including seven of the top 10 technology companies.

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