Employee benefits: Why data is king

Data is an inevitable result of the digital era. When you can track anything and everything, there’s an inherent opportunity within the resulting information. It’s an area which companies are investigating and actioning; alongside anecdotal evidence from our own clients’ feedback, one of the key trends uncovered in Aon’s latest UK Benefits and Trends survey is an increased interest in collating and using this data across multiple areas.

The steady rise of online benefits

Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends survey looks at the key benefits trends for 2020

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, online benefits have continued their upward trend; 50% of companies now offer them to their employees (up from 45% last year). Utilising an online benefits platform has numerous advantages when it comes to measuring employee engagement – the 2020 Benefits and Trends survey showed that most companies measure benefit take-up rates and portal clicks. This data can then be used to assess the popularity of certain benefits – and help build a wider picture of user behaviour and interests. It can also help you identify potential discrepancies between interest and actions – ones which would have otherwise remained hidden from view. Perhaps there’s a high level of click-throughs for a particular benefit, but low real-world uptake – indicating that there is an interest, but the solution isn’t quite the right fit or there’s a lack of understanding. Digital data can shine a light on areas which would otherwise remain in the dark.

The emergence of apps

Companies are also turning to apps to deliver a streamlined experience when it comes to offering and communicating benefits. The survey showed that 14% of businesses currently have an app in place, with 32% planning to introduce them to their workforce. As with online platforms, the opportunity for data is endless. Employee wellbeing apps – such as Well One, or Well One Money – provide further opportunity to gain actionable insights on your workforce. Anonymised and aggregated data from these types of platforms can be used to pinpoint problem areas, develop a tailored benefits strategy, and measure the impact in real-time.

Metrics and measuring

The Benefits and Trends report also showed that there’s been a noticeable increase in companies measuring against their objectives – 91% of companies are now measuring their performance – in comparison to 86% in 2019 – with over half rating themselves as ‘somewhat successful’ at achieving their goals. This activity is underpinned by the need for data; without baselines, KPIs, goals and metrics, nothing can be tracked effectively. Technology is a core enabler of data generation; the automated collecting and processing of data delivers insights which would be otherwise time-consuming to collate. With the vast majority of companies assessing performance (and presumably return-on-investment) the need for accurate, reliable data is key. The right insights at the right time will inevitably help businesses reach their goals – or highlight areas where goals might need adjustment.

Smarter, targeted strategies

Data can inform and drive your benefits strategy and beyond. It can help you create a full picture – from information about your employees’ demographics and their life events, to benefits they’re interested in or even how they’d prefer to be contacted about the schemes your company run. Surveys, focus groups and opt-in preferences can all create a well-informed data picture. This information can help companies offer more relevant benefits (ones employees value and appreciate), and run targeted communications (ones employees may actually pay attention to). Better communications can lead to better engagement – and potentially happier, healthier employees too. It’s a win-win.

The VIP EVP

Data doesn’t just drive value for employers – it should also reinforce value for employees. The 2020 Benefits and Trends survey showed an increase in companies communicating their Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Of course, an Employee Value Proposition is far more than just employee benefits – it forms the wider employee experience – but they can play an integral role. Total Reward Statements can be an impactful way of communicating the full value of an employees’ package. Informed by an individual’s benefits choices, they provide a data-led overview personalised to each employee. Sharing this information in one place can drive further engagement and help boost retention too.

Whatever your benefits strategy or goals, data is likely an omnipresent factor in achieving success. Relevant and actionable data has the potential to transform your benefits programme, your business performance, and – most importantly – the lives of your employees. Good, actionable data can do more than simply evaluate effectiveness. It can – and should – lead the way.

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