Dr. Tanvi Parkar, Aon India Insurance Brokers Private Limited
Employee needs are ever-evolving and workplace benefits should catch and match these requirements. HR professionals preparing for a post-pandemic world must provide an array of benefits that meet employees’ needs, and then modify those benefits when workers’ needs change.
The hitherto ‘new normal’ has now become the ‘way of life’. Organizations are also transforming and adapting to the new employment conditions. This means that they shall now have to see employee benefits through a different lens. Health and safety shall become one of the critical factors for talent attraction, acquisition, as well as retention. That said, employee choice for benefits over different life stages needs to be factored in. Ergo, organizations shall have to restructure their employee benefits program focussing on personalization of benefits.
In an Aon survey, it was found that 72% of millennials say that the ability to customize and availability of choice is very important to them. 50% of participants highlighted that they will sacrifice pay for a better choice, yet <10% have real ability to do so under their corporate benefits program.
Here’s what organizations can do to match the pace of employee benefits with changing employee needs.
Listen to Employees
The concept of work-life balance needs to be deconstructed. The delineation between work and personal life has reduced to a blur in the new normal. It is important to understand the specific needs of employees to design a robust workplace benefits program. Expectation surveys, focused group discussions, personal interviews are some of the tools that can be used to gather employee expectations.
“The concept of work-life balance needs to be deconstructed. The delineation between work and personal life has reduced to a blur in the new normal. It is important to understand the specific needs of employees to design a robust workplace benefits program.”
Attention to Multigenerational Employees
At any given point, there are multi-generational employees in an organization that value benefits differently.
- Firstly, employees that are young, fresh out of college. These employees would prefer benefits that provide them with an experience of organizational culture like gym memberships, employee engagement, fun activities, accident benefits, and preventive health benefits.
- Secondly, employees of the sandwich generation who have both children and parents and would value benefits like dependent insurance, life cover, condition management programs and so on.
- Lastly, employees close to retirement would focus more on health coverage for self, life cover and other retirement benefits. It then becomes paramount to include the needs of employees at different life stages into the workplace benefits program.
Include Inclusion and Diversity
Diversity is not restricted to gender anymore. The umbrella of diversity is widening every day. It includes persons from different races, social and ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexual orientation, parenting status, caregivers, differently-abled persons and so on. It goes without saying that the needs of diverse employees shall also be diverse. Thus, benefits like the inclusion of same-sex partners/LGBTQ partners in group health policy, inclusion of crèche and daycare benefits, support groups for caregivers and employee assistance programs should also be considered while designing workplace benefits.
“Diversity is not restricted to gender anymore. The umbrella of diversity is widening every day. It includes persons from different races, social and ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexual orientation, parenting status, caregivers, differently-abled persons and so on. It goes without saying that the needs of diverse employees shall also be diverse.”
Revisit Your Total Rewards
Your total rewards strategy should ensure that you have covered all the aspects of employee requirements. Post pandemic, they should also comply with the dynamic work conditions. Health insurance benefits should also examine the inclusion of modern and advanced treatments that are minimally invasive and reduce hospital stay to avoid complications and nosocomial infections including Covid-19. Mental wellbeing and ergonomics for work from home should form an inseparable part of workplace wellbeing. Workplace benefits should also attempt to provide a choice of reducing out-of-pocket expenditures on OPD, vaccinations, dental and vision treatments.
We often order food from a particular restaurant despite some others having better reviews. This is because this restaurant allows us to personalize food by letting us choose, add, or delete items and ingredients. In this digital world, we all crave options, be it colours and sizes for an outfit or ‘adding items’ after we have placed an order. Workplace benefits are also catching up on this trend. While a multi-generational and diverse population should be the focal point, flexibility and choice should be the cornerstones of designing workplace benefits.
Speak to Employees
Having listened to the employees and designed a program that can best suit their needs, communicating these benefits become significant. Develop a strong internal communication strategy. Go all in – use digital posters, information mailers, webinars, roadshows, videos, and other relevant means of communication. Ensure to open a two-way channel allowing for suggestions and feedback. Customize communication for groups and categories like age, gender, life stage, health risk and so on.
Consult a Consultant
Oft-times, benefit leaders are swamped with information that needs to be sieved to make it pertinent for decision making. The multitude of providers bee-lining the doors of benefit leaders are mostly pushing their products without understanding the organization’s requirements. This leads to epistemic trespassing. As a result, organizations may end in spending on services that are not needed. Ergo, it becomes crucial to consult a benefits specialist throughout the circuit of planning and implementing workplace benefits.
Employee needs are ever-evolving. Workplace benefits should catch and match these requirements. Personalization is the key to this. The question is, are organizations ready to make this transition? Well, complete flexibility may take time, however, they can begin with limited flexibility. The return on investment on personalized benefits shall be witnessed in the multiplied employee satisfaction. Wouldn’t it be worth it!