Make it personal – getting the most from a diverse and inclusive benefits strategy

Today’s employers are embracing diversity, with workforces spanning as many as five different generations and an even greater number of backgrounds. While this diversity can increase productivity and customer loyalty, it can bring challenges too.

Make it personal – getting the most from a diverse and inclusive benefits strategy

From an employee benefits perspective it means a new approach is necessary. With so many different life stages and requirements represented across the workforce, the one-size-fits all model is well and truly defunct. Instead, employers must offer a much more diverse range of benefits.

Giving employees what they want and need from their benefits package helps to drive up attraction and retention, but there’s also a danger that all this choice can overwhelm them. Communicating so many different benefits to staff can be self-defeating too. By sending out messages to every employee about every benefit, there’s a risk they’ll switch off altogether.

Target benefit selection

To avoid this, as choice has increased, employers have explored ways to target benefits communications. Initially, the methodology was relatively unsophisticated, with messaging broken down by blunt demographics such as age, seniority, salary and marital status. 

Although these characteristics do tell you something about an employee, it won’t necessarily help you match benefits. Take age as an example. A 40-year-old employee could be married and about to send the kids off to university, but they could also be about to start a family or be worried about the care needs of their parents. Finding a benefit that works for all these situations isn’t easy.

Understand what makes them tick

As the shortcomings of making these sweeping assumptions about employees’ benefit requirements became apparent, new segmentation methods emerged.

The first step came with behavioural segmentation. This works in a similar way to some of the big online retailers so, if an employee picks a benefit, further recommendations will be based on the choices made by other employees who also picked that benefit.

As an example, an employee who takes out childcare vouchers could then find themselves offered everything from options to increase their life insurance to discounts on family holidays and cars.

Get personal with every employee

Although this is more likely to hit the benefits spot, it’s possible to take an even more sophisticated approach by using attitudinal segmentation. With this, rather than force employees into a specific benefit box, they’re given the opportunity to select where they should be.

As an illustration, a few years ago we saw an employer who had invested significantly in a wide range of benefits but found that, despite all their marketing efforts, take-up remained doggedly low. To change this, we recommended creating four different benefit profiles, including starting out in my career and going through life changes, and asking employees to select which one, or ones, they felt applied most to them. This enabled them to target benefits to employees more effectively, with benefit take-up increasing.

Drive real benefits engagement

Having this insight into what motivates employees can supercharge your communications too. As the content will be relevant, you’re more likely to make an emotional connection with them. This then creates the ideal situation to inform, educate and even excite them about their benefits.

For instance, if an employee recently got married, tell them about your will writing benefit as many people don’t realise that any existing wills are void upon marriage. By letting them know this personal piece of information, and providing the means to act upon it, you can really drive engagement with your benefits.

Send them a personal message

The final part of making it personal comes with the communications channel. Thanks to technology, employee benefits communications have come a long way from the days of the dry, jargon-laden annual brochure. Today, multiple channels including email, text, apps and video messaging are available to benefits professionals.

And these new channels offer plenty of potential for personalisation. As an example, we’re seeing more organisations using video messages to deliver personalised total reward statements. One benefit provider has even partnered with a well-known virtual assistant tool to let employees find out what’s in their pension pot while they’re getting ready in the morning or sorting the weekly shop.    

In today’s diverse workforce, offering every employee a benefits package that’s tailored to their needs and life stage is important. By making it as relevant, engaging and personal as possible, your organisation can offer benefits that employees really value.

The authors are Helen Payne, principal, and Sarah Robson, senior communications consultant at Aon Employee Benefits.

This article was provided by Aon Employee Benefits.

Aon Employee Benefits is sponsoring REBA’s Innovation Day, taking place on 22 November at County Hall, London.

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