By Robert Hicks, Reward Gateway, Group HR Director
3 data-driven areas of focus to fuel your employee benefits strategy
Anyone that works with me will tell you that I am a bit of a data geek. I have spreadsheets on everything from our employee survey data to my top-played records of all time (I willingly share it with our new colleagues who need inspiration!)
My favourite question to ask is ‘why?,’ and I truly feel that the best answers come from compelling, can’t-argue-with-it evidence in our data sets.
Why does the company need this new benefit? Why are we reducing or completely erasing that benefit? What can we do to attract more top candidates?
On a day-to-day basis, we use data to forecast budgets, sales targets and headcount, and it’s time we apply this mindset to our employee benefits experience to make sure that our benefits are reaching our people to improve their overall employee experience and employee journey.
Here are three key focus areas I suggest looking at to fuel your employee benefits strategy and delight your employees at the same time:
Reinvest in what matters
Are your current benefits offering clues and insight about what your employees really need? For instance, if you offer a wellbeing benefit that delivers resources on a variety of topics such as our Wellbeing Centre, you could identify trends to see where else you could invest in a coveted benefit that your employees will likely engage with, like a smoking cessation or addiction treatment programme if employees are seeking ways to quit or cut back, or virtual yoga classes if your mindfulness/stress resources are highly-visited.
Other data points could come from places like an employee discounts programme to help you understand what your employees are spending their money on most, and help you customise your rewards programme to give them what they really want. For example, if your employees are spending their hard-earned rewards on plane tickets or more on everyday expenses like family necessities, maybe your company could provide more in this area with Holiday Trading or a Baby Bonus.
This seems like an obvious one, but the best benefits programmes are ones that you can see at a glance how many employees are engaging with them.
"This is where technology can be useful, either to poll your people after a new benefit has been launched to see if they are aware/engaging with it, or having an analytics dashboard to spot trends in usage."
You could also look at usage throughout the year to pinpoint where there are high times of benefits usage, such as what we see around Christmas when our employee discounts programme sees a big spike in festive shopping! You may see surprises, too, where there are quiet periods, or benefits with lower takeup, that could use a communications plan to bring more awareness to the great things your company has on offer.
Depending on the type of benefit programme, you could look at data points such as overall spend on a discounts scheme, or the rate that employees are spending their flex pots to see how effective these programmes are.
Knowing the overall usage of your benefits is critical, but taking it a step further is where you can help make decisions to suit your employees’ needs best. Look at your benefits dashboards to see what teams specifically are engaging with the benefits on offer, and use this data to inform future decisions.
If you see a particular team that isn’t engaging with the benefits, consider leading a managers session to equip leaders with the information to share in all-hands meetings, such as a virtual (or in-person) benefits roadshow.
Are your employees accessing their benefits via desktop, or via their mobile? Could they use more education on how best to access their benefits and improve the takeup of these benefits, or is it worth switching to a provider that could offer a better mobile experience?
When it comes to using data to the advantage of your benefits, the big follow up question is, what can you do differently to increase usage in low takeup areas?
While looking at data can seem like a manual, laborious task, The right tools and technology can turn data from a manual, labourious task to becoming your best friend. And when it comes to the employee experience, the more data, the better.
I encourage you to challenge your benefits assumptions and use data points to be more strategic when it comes to your employee benefits on offer. Always ask yourself, ‘what is the data telling me?’ and there you will find the best answers.