Global Payroll and Benefits

The secret to an engaging employee benefit program

Flexibility? Low cost? A wellness fund? We know the secret.
July 8, 2021
Ally Fekaiki
A person with their hands on laptop keyboard and the text 'employee benefits' appears on screen

With workplace paradigms in a state of flux, the topic of benefits have come under the spotlight. It goes without saying that our remuneration from work is much more than a salary, and it’s expected of an employer to have a comprehensive and engaging benefits program if they want to compete for the best talent, and keep them.

The question is: how do you make everyone feel supported and valued, regardless of their location or circumstances? With distributed work going mainstream over the coming years, it’s crucial that a flexible and inclusive approach is used. So how do you create an engaging employee benefit program that your team actually adopts?

1. Make autonomy a central part of your strategy

The key to creating an engaging employee benefit program is offering as much choice to employees as possible. Traditionally, benefits (at best) have been a menu of offerings such as medical care and vouchers that employees can make use of. That one-size-fits all approach meant engagement was notoriously low.

It’s not a stretch to agree that well-being is subjective; what makes me happy and fulfilled is different to what makes you happy and fulfilled. As a result, giving employees the power to choose and self-serve what they need, when they need it, has massively increased engagement. Now that parents can choose childcare over fitness, and young 20-somethings can choose mental health support over financial support, utilisation is naturally maximised.

In our research at Juno, we have found that over ⅔ of employees don’t use their benefits because they are untailored to them. Those same two-thirds report that a lack of visibility of what they have on offer is also a factor in their low utilisation.

Moreover, when it comes to budget, offering a personalised allowance to all employees means that everybody has the same level of care globally. That way you can scale your program as you grow your team.

2. Invest in a more open definition of ‘benefits’

As we enter a new epoque at work, benefits themselves will go through a redefinition. At Juno, our clients have completely reconfigured what they consider benefits to be. Not only that, but clients are investing far more than they used to. Previously, a lot of benefits forced employees to come out of pocket in order to redeem them (think coupons and discount vouchers) which was a leading factor in their under-utilisation.

Benefits plans should support well-being and mental health, andempower employees to act preventatively and that may mean accessing services or products that are not strictly mental health related but may help employees around the house, with their kids, and with their general lifestyle.

Lifestyle support is a great benefit to offer, especially if those benefits can offer employees’ time back in their busy lives. For example, employees love getting their houses cleaned or laundry picked up. It’s a benefit that is time-giving rather than time-consuming and, for many busy professionals, that’s a huge help.

We encourage employers to open up the definition of benefits not just to mean health insurance or fitness, but to consider how they can support their lifestyle and families. That way employees can discover new and interesting ways to support themselves, thus boosting engagement even further.

3. Get out of the way, if you can

The employers we work with care a whole lot about their employee experience. There’s no doubt about that. What they also understand is that there is a benefit to getting out of the way of your employees. Especially with mental health, people have a complex range of needs and requirements and it’s crucial that there is a boundary between people and their employers.

Rightly, there are privacy concerns when it comes to employers gathering or having visibility over the data and usage of their employees. Offering employees the chance to self-serve their own support and ensuring there are clearly distinct boundaries will naturally mean higher engagement and trust.

In sum, what we have learnt at Juno is that offering choice and flexibility to employees is the core driver in a highly engaging benefits programme. Moreover, empowering employees to look after their own wellbeing means that not only do you save thousands as an employer on previously under-utilised initiatives, but you can scale your benefits globally too.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop and take care of a thriving global workforce. It lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

About the Author

Ally is the founder of Juno, an on-demand employee wellbeing platform.

About the Author

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