Nima Pourshasb
Startup Contributor

A Staff Benefits Strategy Is Crucial. How Do You Get it Right?

By Nima Pourshasb | Thu, 09/22/2022 - 10:00

The battle to attract talent continues. The Great Resignation and poaching from remote-only companies from other parts of the world makes employee attraction and retention harder. Add to this the market-driven pressure on budgets and getting the employee benefits strategy right is now more important than ever. 

Aside from obvious cost considerations, what are the critical blocks for a successful strategy?

Employers offer benefits to improve the quality of life of their employees. The materiality of that improvement is key. They need to solve the top-of-mind and main pain points or stress sources, not superficial issues, or nice-to-haves. Also, it must be attractive to the majority, if not all, the team members. According to MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends, 86 percent of employees consider their finances as the main source of stress, today and going forward, and according to PwC's 2019 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 59 percent of employees at organizations globally said money or financial matters were their biggest source of concern. After more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the same study, in its 2021 edition, once again reported that finances were the main cause of employee stress, even above work and health stress, and 63 percent revealed that their financial stress had gradually increased since the start of the health contingency. Hence, a high-impact and high-adoption benefits package needs to include financial wellness solutions, such as education, liquidity, savings, loans, discounts, and payments.

Companies are made up of people of different ages, lifestyles, and levels of physical or financial health. All of these are factors that have an impact on what employees need from a benefits package to achieve their best professional development and maximize their well-being.

No two employees are the same. They have different needs and priorities that change over time. An employee in her 20s may worry more about insuring her cellphone than her own life. Similarly, every company has its own culture and strategy. Hence, flexibility in the benefits package is critical. The employer wants modular benefits to switch on/off as they see fit. The employee looks to personalize their benefits package depending on their needs and priorities — and to be able to change these when they desire. This flexibility ensures that employers are not paying for benefits that they or their employees don’t want or need. Mercer’s Health on Demand survey states that 54 percent of employees consider it valuable to have the ability to personalize their benefits package to fulfill their personal needs. 

As per Deloitte’s Total Rewards Practices Survey, “74 percent of organizations indicated that they planned to move to a fully integrated or more integrated benefits program philosophy.” An all-in-one integrated benefits platform has strong advantages. Employee experience is better as they access all their benefits in one single app or web portal, instead of a separate one per benefit. Employers avoid managing a variety of providers each with their own onboarding, do all configurations in a single web portal, and enjoy holistic reports and dashboards that capture behavior across all the benefits. Furthermore, having benefits all in one place significantly simplifies communication and discovery of the benefits.

Digital benefits platforms offer companies valuable information on the habits of their employees. In this way they can understand which benefits they value most and have helped them improve their quality of life. For example, employers can see which benefits are most popular with certain demographics, or they can learn which benefits have the most engagement. If employees use financial well-being benefits more frequently, it may be convenient to introduce new tools to help them better manage their finances, such as virtual personal finance courses, modules to promote savings, access to cheap financing or salary on-demand. In this way, employers can be sure that the budget assigned to benefits is having the greatest possible impact and they can make the necessary adjustments with the data that supports them.

A successful employee wellness strategy employs data to drive engagement with the benefits. Employers frequently complain that they pay for benefits that employees do not value or use. A digital benefits platform not only allows a 24/7 and on-demand employee-benefits relationship, it also ensures that every interaction is measured; when you use a discount in a store or your lunch card in the restaurant, save toward an objective, or use telemedicine to plan your diet for the next month. This provides HR leaders with an in-depth understanding of the use and behavior of their benefits offering. It also allows companies to reward higher engagement and healthy habits. By including in the benefits app communication features for notifications and surveys, you will further strengthen the engagement and repeat access.

Defining and implementing a successful benefits strategy has deep implications for the well-being of employees, the company’s culture, and ultimately its success. Companies, and their employees are counting on their People leaders to get this right. 
Nima Pourshasb is CEO and Co-Founder of minu. He has extensive entrepreneurial experience creating and growing technology companies in different countries. He created his first company for Latin American consumers, FormaFina, with offices in six countries in the region. In Mexico, he collaborated at Banco Sabadell as head of Personal Banking. He was born in Iran, grew up in Spain, and completed his postgraduate studies in London and the US. Follow him on LinkedIn and/or Twitter. The opinions published in this column belong exclusively to the author.

Photo by:   Nima Pourshasb