Swap ‘password rage’ for better employee engagement

If the surveys on the greatest things to annoy us are to be believed then approximately one third of us have admitted to suffering from ‘password rage’. This being the case, the chances are that you and a large number of your colleagues suffer from ‘password rage’ on a regular basis, either because you’ve forgotten your user id or password for an online site.

And to be honest it’s hardly surprising when it is estimated that the average person could have 20 or more different user ID’s and passwords.

If you draw up a list of emotions and outcomes you’d like to achieve from an engaging employee experience it is unlikely that rage will be one of them.

As more aspects of our life move online the situation is in danger of getting worse, and it is directly relevant to maximising the success of your reward or flexible benefits programme.

Two main changes

In the early days of flexible benefits the flex portal was usually the only online destination that employees would have available. So only one user id and password to remember. But things have changed considerably and in two main ways.

Firstly, there are now more workplace benefits available than ever before – good news when you are looking to provide an engaging range of benefits to your multi-generational workforce. 

The second change is that the providers of these benefits increasingly see themselves as digital first. They want people to learn about the product, enrol and claim online. Not only is this operationally efficient for the provider, it is the way an increasing number of today’s consumers expect to make decisions and transactions.

Online journeys are changing

As a result, the providers of health, wealth and lifestyle benefits are building their own online journeys and apps. A lot of them are excellent with great content and functionality, and they are only getting better. Between them, the providers of popular benefits such as pension schemes, health insurance, financial education, retail discounts and share schemes are spending hundreds of millions of pounds on engaging online experiences for the benefit of your employees and your company. The downside is - more user ids and passwords. More password rage, less employee engagement!

You may already be seeing evidence of this. During a flexible benefit window it is not unusual for half of the calls to an employer or helpdesk to be password resets. This is a drain on the HR team, a drain on service providers and a waste of communication energy that would be better spent on education and promotion. And that will just be for the flex portal. For password resets for other sites such as a pension portal the employee will usually need to go to contact a different helpdesk – more likely give up.

Passwords will be a thing of the past - eventually

There will come a day when biometric security is commonplace, user ids and passwords will be a thing of the past and instead we will log in to everything with a swipe of a finger or a blink of an eye. But until then there is a solution to password rage – Single Sign On (SSO for short).

SSO is not new but as the number of websites and online services rises it is becoming, along with mobile device compatibility, more of a necessity.

SSO works by extending the authentication of one website to another website automatically. In the context of employee benefits, the first website is normally the employer’s intranet site. When the employee logs on to their employer’s intranet site they are authenticating their identity. When SSO is established with an employee benefits or flex portal, the employee can log straight on to the portal from the employer intranet without any further user id or password. The portal recognises that the employee has already authenticated themself when they logged on to their intranet.

This has two benefits. Firstly, the employee now only has one user id and password to remember (their intranet one) rather than two. Secondly, the user id / password they have to remember should be more memorable as they will be using it every day for work rather than more periodically for the employee benefits portal.

Convenient access to the employee benefits portal is even more important when the employee has access to ‘anytime benefits’ rather than a single, annual window, as this makes it easier for them to access the site to select, enrol or claim when it’s most convenient for them.

How to enable SSO

SSO from a company intranet can be established with a wide range of websites including employee benefit portals, discount sites, financial education sites and sometimes pension providers. However establishing and maintaining multiple SSO benefit connections from a company intranet site can test the patience of the IT department, and, depending on the layout or functionality of the intranet site, possibly lead to a fragmented benefit experience for the employee.

An alternative is to use an employee benefits portal as an SSO hub to the benefit providers. In this configuration the employer has a single SSO connection from their intranet to the employee benefits portal. The portal then establishes SSO links with the various benefit providers selected for the employee benefit package. Not only does this result in less IT burden on the employer, but  portals are also generally better designed to deliver a coherent employee benefit journey than a company intranet.

This can help make the most of the employee benefit portal as well as harness the digital capability, tools and content of the benefit providers, giving the employees a best of all worlds’ solution – with no password rage!

If the employee benefit portal provider is also responsible for the relationship with the pension provider it may also be possible to SSO and integrate key pension information such as fund values and investment details into the employee benefit portal.

Pension is typically a very valuable part of an employer’s reward proposition and it is often not really integrated with the wider benefits, by bringing this information front and centre it can help boost employee awareness and thereby also help boost return on investment for the employer.

Pension connectivity is set to become a bigger topic over the next few years in anticipation of the launch of the Pension Dashboard in 2019 which will enable individuals to see details of all of their legacy pension schemes on one website, giving people more control of their retirement planning.  We expect pension dashboards to become a feature of employee benefit portals of the future.

In 1989 the film “Back to the Future” portrayed a futuristic world based in 2015. Alongside hover boards, self-tying shoe laces and flying cars are instantly recognisable items such as large flat screen TVs, video calling and – fingerprint recognition.

I am sure the next 26 years will see the end of the user id and password however in the meantime embrace SSO and swap password rage for better employee engagement.

This article was provided by JLT Employee Benefits.







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