The HR world has shifted from doing payrolls on excel sheets to now having swanky tools for everything and anything. Similarly, unlike earlier, Benefits are making a comeback and becoming a very extremely important component of an employee value proposition. Organizations are undoubtedly going the extra mile to invest in tools for Flexi benefits, leave vouchers, etc.
Considering there are typically four different generations that constitute your workforce, it becomes extremely critical to contextualize your Benefit offering to cater to what we now call the individual value proposition. Everyone has unique preferences and choices. Rohit Thakur, HR Head, Accenture talks about how in spite of being in a mature phase, benefits are the biggest hurdle to companies. How do we look at hyper-personalization in such a diverse workspace?
In such cases, Accenture looks at flexible Benefits from a completely different angle. They get various organizations to partner with them to offer the best deals besides the common benefits provided by the company. They have created a marketplace that includes elderly care, education, holidays, etc. that employees can choose from. According to him, "People are okay with sharing data as long as they benefit from it, so if I can leverage individual spending data and offer them better deals, it is a benefit both for them as well as the company."
While most organizations are looking at physical benefits, it's also equally important to look at mental health benefits. We have enough data to suggest that depression has been going up globally, and organizations need to help in the elimination of the stigma around mental health. One of the best ways to go about this is by conducting surveys and focus groups on accessing your organization and understanding what your employees want. This helps in providing them the right benefits both for physical and mental health.
The government has made considerable strides in the Benefits space as well, how organizations adapt to it and use it as an effective tool is essential. One of the least penetrated Benefits programs is the National Pension Scheme that helps with taxation, returns, and a long-term benefit standpoint. Developing apps and platforms that help employees discover such schemes add excellent value to the organization. Technology is the key to all this because it gathers personal data and curates as per individual wants to make the Benefits program much more valuable.
Challenges while embarking on the journey of benefit digitization
One of the biggest challenges in this area is that Benefits is a very broken space. There are separate technologies, platforms, etc. that are not connected, making it very fragmented. Secondly, organizations struggle in spite of this being a CHRO's priority because of the multitude of options. However, it goes without saying that the Benefit space has seen some tremendous growth in the last few years.
Best practices to be adopted.
- Don't limit Benefits only to top management: Recently, a mid-sized IT company used an AI-based solution to give all the employees a virtual assistant to manage their Benefit program.
- Add training as part of Benefits: Giving employees training allowance lets the employee decide how much time and money he wants to invest in their development.
- Let the employee decide what's best: Organizations start with something and then that initiative frizzles out. A better approach to this problem is throwing the options back to employees and letting them decide in what form do they want to encash these Benefits.
Benefits work in places where there is comfort, trust, and people want to be part of their lives. Don't look for digitization in a place where there is no engagement. Start by first engaging in other ways and then introducing the concept of Benefits. Also, the most prominent mistake organizations assume that employees understand benefits which is wrong. Conduct explanation sessions and create small videos when you decide to digitize space, so you get better engagement and enrollment.
(This article is based on a panel discussion on Changing landscape of benefits- the role of digital conducted during Tech HR India 2019 by People Matters.)