Pandemic has changed the way work is managed in organizations. Organizations are getting transformed and so-called New Normal work culture is developing and employment conditions are changing accordingly. This changed scenario is also forcing organizations to have a relook at their Employee Benefits program to meet changing employee needs.
But how do we restructure the Employee Benefits program? Do we have enough data to design the program? Do we know what are the expectations of the employees in the post-pandemic era? Do employers have enough budget in the squeezed financial scenario?
Speak with Employees: Employee communication is very important in developing new employee benefits concepts. Listening to employees and maintaining continuous connect with them along with sharing of “What is in it for them” is the key to restructuring the benefit plans. While it is important to do employee perception surveys to understand the pulse of the employee needs but at the same time, we need to harness the strategic use of the important links in the chain — MANAGERS. Managers know more as they have direct access to employees and it is important that HR should communicate with & through the managers because they are the catalyst for the change and they have ears to the ground to give adequate input.
Reorientation of Benefit Program will also require a focus on the organization transformation because of the covid-19, the nature of employment has also changed. The mix of a new set of employees may consist of FTEs, Contract Employees, and lots of GIG workers. Each one of them will have different needs and may need HYPER-PERSONALISATION of Benefits.
Employer’s Perspective: Now let’s look at from the employer’s angle there is a need to optimize the cost of the benefits or what we call TOTAL REWARDS. Employee benefits are not only related to the health part, but there are also other wellness and support programs that organizations try to match with their values and employee’s needs. The restructuring may need some reinvestment in new areas like providing Ergonomic Furniture to employees working from home or creating online team building activities, or training managers on virtual empathy. The same budget which was earlier allocated for some set of wellness initiatives may need relook to support hyper localization for what we can say hyper-personalization of the benefits. So a fine balance between cost and the perception of a benefits program is important.
Multi Generations of Employees: There is a need emerging for restructuring because of multi-gen employees in large organizations. At any point in time, there are normally three generations of employees one those who are working, one could be absolutely young, fresh out of college and their parents are working and parents may have health benefits from their respective employers. They do not have specific needs which are related to the health insurance, they are more interested in the wellness part or may look for more EXPERIENTIAL BENEFITS. The second-generation employees are those who are having kids and they have the parents also but parents in some cases may be in working or may not be working, for those people it is important they should cover the kids as well as their parents for health benefits and may need life covers too. The third category is the employees who are at the forty-plus age and their parents may be retired and they need some specific critical care support and these employees may not be interested in having children’s insurance cover because they must be over 18 years. Now all those things mean that the entire program has to be redesigned or personalized to develop a Smart Employee Benefits Program which means it should be localized & personalized to the individual needs, however, the main question is are these companies ready to manage these smart benefit programs. It may not be possible to create totally flexible plan but maybe a semi-flexible one to cater to a large number of employees.
Role of Consultants: As the complexities of Employee Benefits increasing, organizations are finding it difficult to manage. The organizations need experts to do the employee perceptions survey, focus group meetings, critical incident analysis, Benefits usage analysis, Insurance usage trends, and help companies develop this Smart Employee Benefits Program, said Sudip Indani, President Employee Benefits Practices, Howden Insurance Brokers. We have a complete structured approach to help the corporates evaluate their current practices and make suggestions for the restructuring of their benefit plans, he further added.
Its high time, when corporate HR should look at the options available and match with ever-evolving employee needs of benefits.