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02 Jun 2023
by Sarah McDonough

How benefits choice and flexibility can support employee experience

What do employees most want to make their work experience the best it can be? Understanding employee preferences and needs is a critical first step in creating a benefits programme

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Employee experience is key to achieving the connection experience that shapes and drives engagement and growth opportunities.

Yet, with so much change and so many areas to focus on internally right now when designing benefits programmes, it can seem difficult to pinpoint the key areas that will drive employee experience and deliver the necessary impact and return.

Huge shifts from both a technology and societal perspective also means that reward and benefits professionals need to constantly evolve their thinking and decisions to keep up with candidates’ preferences and needs while managing budgets and overall ROI.

Four main drivers

According to Willis Towers Watson’s high-performance employee experience (HPEX) research, there are four main drivers of employee experience at work – they are Purpose, Work, Total Reward and People. Benefits programmes are included within the Total Reward driver.

In 2023, many leading multinational organisations are aligning employee experience of benefits/wellbeing with the company’s purpose, culture, vision and values.

Flexibility, enabled through technology, has become considerably more accessible for employers and supports the ability to offer more benefits such as salary sacrifice, flex funding and off-payroll payments, etc.

As employee attitudes towards benefits have change since the Covid-19 pandemic, employees are seeking more flexibility in not just health-related benefits, but lifestyle benefits too.

Additionally, their working relationships are driven mainly by hybrid working and they expect to see this mirrored in their benefits. That want to see more benefits offered, more diversity and more relevance to them and their personal circumstances.

Flexibility and choice

In fact, according to WTW’s 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, increased flexibility and choice is the number one factor that employees want employers to prioritise. Technology, underpinned by an excellent communications and engagement programme, is the enabler to achieving this effectively and efficiently.

As a result of this focus on choice and flexibility, continuously listening to employees has also become increasingly important. What employees want, how benefit preferences have changed and how employers respond are all important areas to understand and gather feedback on, so that there is strong alignment on what employees have said they need or want versus the benefits on offer.

In summary, offering a benefits programme that aligns with the company’s purpose and values but, more critically, aligns with employees needs and preferences, is not only driving the overall employee experience at work, including talent attraction and retention, but it is also positioning it as a key focus priority for organisations more broadly.

This is mainly because understanding employee preferences and needs is a critical first step in designing a benefits programme. Leveraging technology to deliver flexibility and choice is a key opportunity to deliver an effective and efficient programme.

Ensuring that employees are fully aware of and understand the benefits on offer is a critical success factor which can be delivered through a strong communications and engagement programme to ensure that employees use them to enhance their employee experience at work.

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Meet and talk to them at REBA Wellbeing Congress on 22 June. They're keen to hear about your strategy and can help your focus on embedding employee experience and wellbeing at the heart of reward and benefits decisions.

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