Employee experience | 4 key pillars of a successful flexible benefits programme

4 key pillars of a successful flexible benefits programme

By Lee Thompson, Head of Solution Delivery at Reward Gateway

Hi, my name is Lee, and I am addicted to technology.

Working in the flexible benefits space for close to a decade, I’ve seen firsthand the impact it can make to an employer to deliver a seamless, incredible experience for their employees – how a client’s eyes light up when we’ve crafted the perfect mix of benefits for their particular portfolio that will make their employees excited to engage with all their company has to offer.

In my role as Solutions Engineer, I work closely with our Product and Implementation Teams to do what I can to support our future (and current clients) when it comes to the world of flex.

When I say flexible benefits, I mean the range from simple to sophisticated - this could include a flex fund, employer funded products, voluntary benefits or a standalone programme where integrations with existing providers are required to function effectively.

While every programme is different (that’s the nature of the flex category, hey) I’ve found that there are four pillars that you can attribute to building a successful flexible benefits programme. These are your absolute must-haves to make sure your programme drives the results you need.

Here’s a look at them:

1. Your programme has to help you (and your team) automate and streamline your benefits administration

There is no doubt there is one thing that unifies many, if not all, of the Reward Teams I’ve worked with in the past. There are just simply too many systems and spreadsheets that it’s become overwhelming and inefficient. Instead of working to find the latest and greatest benefit that will help you attract and retain your employees, and analyse what’s working and what’s not, you’re tasked to become expert administrators for multiple technologies. Since when was that a part of your job description?

While the rapid introduction of different systems has enhanced the lives of employees in some ways, it has also led to inefficiencies in terms of costs and time. It’s hard to streamline processes when systems each look and act differently, and have overlapping functionality. It’s even harder when some of these processes are still manual, and not talking to other processes and systems in place.

The result? Teams spend time putting out fires and consolidating data, and have less time to invest in improving their overall employee benefits strategies and employee support.

2. Your programme should simplify and consolidate the employee experience

We’ve all been there. From an employee perspective, remembering which platform to go to for which benefit – and when – is annoying. It’s also frustrating to enter the same personal information on each system in order to access a benefit. Or, to have to learn how to navigate different platforms.

And unless you’ve got all these systems centrally accessed by SSO, employees experience login fatigue and frustration.

Adapting to new ways of working during the pandemic only amplified these issues. Working from home has added a new level of complexity related to accessing work systems and staying up to date on benefits offerings and enrolment windows.

The result? Tools intended to deliver employee benefits and strengthen your Employee Value Proposition can actually negatively impact benefit uptake and employee engagement.

3. Your programme has to support communications to increase visibility and understanding of employee benefits

We all know the philosophical question that goes: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Well, that scenario can apply to employee benefits. I know many of you have had the experience of working to launch a new benefit only to find that weeks or even months later, some employees still don’t know that it exists. When this happens, the employees lose out on helpful support and on understanding the full value of their employment with your company.

The right technology can support communications efforts by building in opportunities for multiple touch-points to promote new benefits, alert employees of a new enrolment window and more. Using Reward Gateway internal communications tools on top of an inclusive flexible benefits system means that within your blogs, you can also cater to different learning styles by leveraging video, images and written content to make sure your message lands with impact.

4. Your programme should deliver an incredible user experience

This last element is where I’ve seen so many organisations fall short. It’s not enough to consolidate benefit offerings onto a single platform and let people know about it. The experience an employee has using that platform will determine if they ever want to return. It’s really make or break to determine the success of your employee benefits investment.

Employees want a workplace experience that matches what they’ve come to expect as consumers.

They expect experiences to be designed around how they behave, how they work, and what they need to feel connected and be productive.
When it comes to the digital tools they use in their day-to-day jobs, they expect them to be as easy to use, convenient, and intuitive as those they use in their personal life.

While communications are critically important for any sort of benefits programme, this doesn’t make a stitch of a difference if your employees do not find it intuitive, quick and easy to use. I’d also point out that mobile accessibility and the visuals are important here, to make your benefits experience as inviting as possible so your employees will want to engage with it.

While I could spend hours happily talking about how to build a flexible benefits strategy and how technology can support your journey, I’ll leave you with these four keys to success for now.

If you are interested in exploring a seamless, user-first flexible benefits platform that can help your teams and your people, click here to get in touch with our team.

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