In the modern workplace, a solid organizational benefits policy is the key ingredient to designing the right employee experience. People expect benefits offerings to be expansive, customized and to meet their needs. Be it gym memberships, learning opportunities or financial wellbeing, the employees of today want it all.
To discuss all this and more, Batik hosted a webcast with industry leaders. In an insightful session moderated by Pramey Jain, founder and CEO of Tartan, Renu Bohra, CPO, Schenker India and
Vicky Jain, Founder and CEO, uKnowva, discussed how critical a good benefits program is from the point of view of both the employee and the employer.
Employee benefit trends
The world of work is becoming more and more employee centric. Flexibility has emerged as a strong employee need post-Covid, along with personalization, new ways of working, and wellness. “More than wellness, there is a move towards wellbeing and work-life integration,” shared Renu Bohra, CPO, Schenker India. The biggest challenge is to marry retention and engagement, while ensuring growth, performance, sustainability and ESG. Organizations are striving to achieve the company goals while getting employee needs achieved. “After all, employees are human beings, and everyone has to be treated as human first,” Pramey Jain, Tartan’s founder and CEO chimed in. Vicky Jain, who is the founder and CEO of uKnowva, shared that we are in the midst of a shift towards a more employee-centric market, with employees wanting to go beyond compensation towards benefits, perks, growth, learning, etc. While devising a benefits strategy, HR must understand the organizational context as well.
How to devise a benefits strategy?
“Post-Covid, accessibility has become a major ask with work-from-home and hybrid working creating demand for wellbeing and flexibility. HR must begin by asking, “How do you get to know what people are going through?”, “How do you foster belongingness online?” Vicky said. Bohra further highlighted how understanding the needs of employees through regular surveys, benchmarking with best practices, gap analysis, and compliance monitoring is the first step in this direction.
Bohra believes that HR should not build an expectation of high EAP (employee assistance program) usage, but should give it as an offering anyways. “Schenker tied up with a health app for a 12-week challenge to bring together like-minded fitness conscious people to participate. Such people are only around 35%. Management may say this is a small number, but if 30% of the organization feels that they need access to a health app or online studio, so be it!” she added.
Pramey Jain agreed “ For certain benefits, engagement may not be high, but those initiatives should be made available as a good-to-have comforting factor for employees,” the Tartan founder said.
The primary focus for Schenker is to make the benefits bouquet available on one single platform, marrying offerings across locations.
The Need for a Rewards HRMS
With new-age employee benefits and rewards coming into the picture for different employee cohorts, organizations are looking for an integrated engaging platform which enables customization. At Schenker India, managers serve as the lynchpin and inform HR about the needs of team members.
For example, the need for preventive health check-ups in Jan, and the HR works on the outcomes and goals for the next nine months.
“It becomes very labour and time intensive for HR to manage. We do not have answers, but we are planning to have an aggregator,” Renu said. Vicky Jain agrees that the purpose of technology is to reduce human effort i.e. to manage, develop and engage with talent effectively through automation.
Organizations may struggle with keeping the process transparent, nominating people, or publicizing the reward aptly. Often, sending an email or a WhatsApp announcement becomes more important than the intrinsic value of the reward itself. For example, awarding Rs 500 in front of a thousand team members can improve employee loyalty. Tech platforms can help streamline logistical tasks such as form-based nominations on the portal, options to select the reward category, in-built approval mechanisms for the jury. This takes care of transparency, making it more appealing for employees.
Yet, despite these features, adoption of HRMS platforms continues to be a challenge.
Driving tech adoption for success
In the work-from-home era, thanks to systems availability and collaborative forums, managers have understood that tech adoption is all in the mind. The question they are faced with is, “How do we make employees more aware?”. The answer is that it is all about communication. Theme-based events, topic-based discussion huddles, placing the onus on managers are just some of the ways. “The more the senior management team uses and portrays tech, a buzz is created, and things happen. Tech adoption is directly proportional to its simplicity, be it policy, tool or strategy,” said Vicky Jain, further adding that the ease of use of a platform for employees and simplicity for HR to fulfil or develop a benefit are critical success factors.
At the centre of benefits success lies the employee. Hence, HR must uphold the bare basics such as data privacy. In fact, Vicky suggests that a DIY model wherein employees can log-in and pick and choose within a set budget, will help create best traction.
HR can aid this by talking about the benefits, building sensitivity and assuring anonymity, especially in mental health offerings which may carry certain stigma. HR must involve and counsel line manager to make their teams feel physically and psychologically safe. Plus, empowering managers with an employee engagement budget can also help in the democratisation of benefits administration as well.
Most importantly, traction is driven when senior leadership talks and shares about the tool and its benefits. It is a two-way street, with HR as the agent to bring out the voice of people to the leadership.