Organisations can shy away from taking their employee benefits digital because of time and money constraints. But, says PES’s Andrew Drake, there’s no excuse for not bringing employee benefits into the 21st century
Every HR or reward professional I meet recognises the advantages of adopting technology for their employee benefits scheme. Deploying a modern, easy-to-use employee benefits platform leads to a better employee experience, higher engagement, a higher return on your significant investment, plus risk and hassle-free administration.
It all sounds like it’s a no-brainer. So why not do it? The main reasons I come across are time and money.
We can deal with the latter fairly easily; the cost of technology is coming down and some simple maths will make the business case stack up. The bigger concern is: how do we find more time in our already packed days?
Well, here’s a thought: maybe we don’t have to. I believe that implementing technology doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it’s as easy as A, B, C (and D).
1. Agree the budget and timeline with board
Nothing happens without senior management buy in, so do your homework first. Work out the cost and the business case. Not all employee benefit platforms are created equal; it’s best to shop around until you get the right combination of cost versus return on investment (ROI) in the form of:
- Benefit choices (are any included free with the platform, for example?)
- Implementation and licence fees
- Client support from your provider
- Saved administration time
- Happy, engaged employees
If you’re unfamiliar with some of the terminology thrown at you by providers, take a look at our handy jargon buster to help you navigate the world of employee benefits tech-speak.
You’ll end up with all the ammunition you need to make a strong case and agree a timeline with the decision-makers in your company.
2. Build your scheme over time
Rome wasn’t built in a day – and the same is true of benefits technology. This is a journey over two or three years, so don’t over-complicate it at the beginning.
First, take the benefits you currently offer and put them on a digital platform to make the administration paper-free, risk-free and more efficient. For any seasoned provider, this should be a straightforward process. Then add a couple of really attractive options so your people feel like you’re always keeping the benefits proposition fresh.
So many organisations have a solid core benefits package that is managed by old-fashioned paper forms flying around between HR, recruitment and payroll providers.
All of that goes away with an employee platform – so you have an immediate win.
If you introduce a couple of new benefit options – such as online shopping discounts and holiday trading – your employees will really feel a step change. More often than not I hear HR people say, ‘I’d love to offer holiday trading but it feels like a lot of work.’ But it doesn’t need to be; with technology, couldn’t be simpler.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
It might sound obvious, but if you don’t tell people about this great new platform you’ve invested in – and keep reminding them about it – they won’t use or value it. Start with an internal launch campaign and keep the momentum going.
Do you have the resources internally to publicise your employee benefits platform regularly? If not, make it part of your initial scoping exercise to evaluate whether employee communications are included in the provider package. Find a supplier who will use a range of channels to help your busy HR team communicate your benefits in the most effective way.
All you will have to do is sign off on what has been created, agree the distribution and make sure any internal brand or communications people are on board. It will help your employer brand if the provider can customise their communications – and the platform itself – to reflect your logo, colours, and any other bespoke requirements.
4. Don’t be a dinosaur
Without an easy-to-use digital portal, many of today’s tech-savvy employees won’t even bother to find out what benefits they have – let alone bother to fill out paper forms. So here’s one final tip: don’t be a dinosaur. Move with the times and take these simple building blocks as your starting point for a modern, technology-driven employee benefits experience.
Andrew Drake is head of making friends at employee benefits technology provider PES, which is one of our CIPHR Connect partners. PES’s online employee benefits platform, HR support and workplace wellbeing services help organisations to bring out the best in their employees, enabling businesses to thrive.