Cost-of-living | Employee benefits engagement is crucial during a recession

Employee benefits engagement is crucial during a recession

David Pinner Employee Benefits Consultant, Johnson Fleming (an NFP company)

As the cost-of-living crisis continues, I’m increasingly being asked by my clients and colleagues about the best ways to get people engaged with their benefits, to really ensure they’re getting the most value from them. And, just as crucially, how supporting people to engage with their benefits helps to improve your employee value proposition in today’s tough landscape.

Wider factors affecting employee engagement

The importance of an organisation’s benefits offering is likely to magnify going forward, as the current economic situation rumbles on and the likelihood of the UK slipping into recession in 2023 increases.

But which other elements that affect an employee’s connection with your organisation should you also be considering over the coming year?

  • Value

    Your people need to feel valued; each individual needs to know their job is important and contributes to the organisation’s mission.

  • Recognition

    People need regular positive and constructive feedback on their performance - those that do not receive acknowledgment of their good work are twice as likely to leave.

  • Humanity

    Do you demonstrate that you care about each of your people as a person first, rather than just as an employee? People who feel cared for are more likely to become advocates for your business.

  • Development

    Training, learning new skills and involvement in projects can help break up the monotony of the work routine and potentially make people more productive.

  • Respect

    Does the work environment support healthy relationships through mutual trust and respect? Is peer to peer mentoring used as an alternative to micromanagement, giving people more confidence in the workplace?

  • Communication

    Does the workplace environment empower people to contribute their opinions and make their voices heard? This can be championed by the leadership team through honesty, transparency and openness.

Using engagement levels to measure the success of your benefits offering

Going forward, I expect that benefit and reward professionals will be under increasing pressure to demonstrate return on investment, as well as the ‘fit’ of their benefits offering within the wider employee value proposition. So, sharpening your benefits offering over the coming year could be a key asset to your business, and could help you to become a destination employer during the economic crisis.

Do you measure engagement with employee benefits, and if so how do you do it? Does your organisation have any success metrics in place to know how effective the benefits offering is?

Regular engagement reviews are a great way to rebalance your benefits package, and allow you to restructure, replace or even remove benefits that no longer fit the needs of your people or your business.

Some employers measure engagement purely by the level of benefit take-up, but there are several variables underpinning this measurement, including how appropriate they are for your particular workforce and also how effectively they are being communicated to your people.

Benefits communication is key

Poor benefits communication is a common pitfall, and can make a world of difference to how your people perceive the value of the benefits you’re offering. Issues I see often are:

  1. A ‘one and done’ approach to communicating benefits

    High engagement levels tend to require a ‘little and often’ approach, to keep the benefits offering fresh in people’s minds, provide timely education around the value of those benefits, and ultimately support their usage.

  2. Making assumptions about how people wish to receive communications

    If engagement is perceived to be low it makes sense to ask employees how they would prefer to access information about their benefits. Try running an employee survey to find out.

  3. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to communication

    We all have our own communication preferences, and depending on the type of benefit it could be:

    Verbal - a webinar where employees can ask questions may be preferred if the benefit holds a degree of complexity. The more traditional people in your organisation may have a greater preference for this method of communication.

    Print - some employees prefer the formality of receiving communications in writing. It also makes the document easy to keep for future reference.

    Digital - some of your people will have embraced technology and are happiest accessing benefits online, or receiving information by email, text or other forms of push-notifications.

Using data to personalise benefits communication for your people

It simply makes sense that if you are taking the trouble to personalise your benefits offering to fit the needs of your workforce demographic, you should also personalise the approach to their communication. And as an employer, you are well placed to achieve this, as you hold a great deal of data about each employee… changes of address, parental leave, promotions, and pension contributions being just a few.

Imagine if this data was plugged into a benefits management system which, as well as cutting benefits administration time, could also spot any data changes and then automatically trigger a personalised communication to the employee, showing them how your particular benefits can support them at that specific time in their working life.

Our AllMyBenefits solution allows you to deliver a truly personalised employee benefits experience for all your people, whilst removing the day-to-day burden of employee benefits management and risk. The algorithms identify key data triggers in your people’s working lives and then send out tailored Nudge messages, creating a personalised communications strategy for each of your people.

Think of AllMyBenefits as your very own employee benefits engagement machine, running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

How can we help?

We can help you to build an engagement strategy that maximises the value your benefits deliver, both for your people and your business. As well as our unique AllMyBenefits technology solution, we’re your one-stop provider of:

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Johnson Fleming (NFP)

At Johnson Fleming, we adopt a pro-active approach and offer innovative solutions that can add real value to your business. We’re here to help your business with the design, broking, engagement and administration of your group pension, rewards and employee benefits, delivering a service personalised to your business and, importantly, your people. Through ongoing advice and support, we’ll help you achieve your business goals and legislative obligations.