Plenty of companies, spurred on by a pressing need to keep employees engaged and help them do their work remotely without hindrance, are investing in new software.
Amid the pandemic, Dell Technologies surveyed 4,300 directors and members of the C-suite in mid-sized to enterprise businesses, across 13 industries and 18 countries. More than four in 10 (44%) said they were rolling out broader working from home or remote working capabilities, and 38% were reinventing how they delivered digital experiences to employees.
Small businesses are also realising the value of such software, not least to lighten the burden of administration, track sick days and absences, deliver training and help teams collaborate.
No longer the preserve of the IT department, today just about everyone’s a technology buyer, sampling cloud based digital workplaces, communications platforms and HR systems to see what’s fit for purpose.
There are several really good reasons to incorporate employee benefits into your tech provision. It boosts take-up of benefits if employees can browse what’s on offer, it can significantly lighten the load on those who do HR admin, and companies can glean valuable user data and feedback.
Done well, benefits tech can also improve engagement with the most valuable but least outwardly exciting benefits (read: pensions) and help organisations to communicate the benefits of good financial planning.
But not all benefits software is created equal. As a guide, the features and functions in this list are the ones I think are non-negotiable.
Six things your employee benefits software really needs
- Does it integrate with your existing digital workplace, intranet or HR platform, and with any benefits providers e.g. your pension scheme provider? There’s little point investing in benefits software if users only log in once every three months because they’ve forgotten that it exists. Keep it visible on your digital workplace homepage, use notifications to draw attention to updates and new benefits and, if possible, don’t ‘gate’ it behind yet another login page.
- Self-service functionality so employees can browse and pick the benefits that best suit them is critical. In some businesses, the only time employees get to hear about benefits on offer is in the job description they saw before they joined the company. It may be months later that a colleague says to them ‘did you know that we can get the Headspace app for free’, or ‘did you know we each get six free therapy sessions’? Your employees aren’t mind readers and new starters may feel uncomfortable about asking.
- Similarly, your system needs communication and promotional tools. Can you easily flag the perks your employees can access, perhaps with automated posts on your internal social media feed, by email or with notifications to your employees’ intranet profile pages? Some software will allow you to segment your audience, by age or length of service for example, and choose the best communication methods for each group. There’s no point investing business money in brilliant benefits if no one knows they’re there.
- Does the system personalise information so that employees don’t see or can opt to ‘hide’ irrelevant benefits? Childfree employees might not want to read about provisions for parents, for example. But also, if people can see a clearly explained snapshot of how their pension pot is doing, and ‘watch’ it grow, rather than receiving an annual statement containing general information about funds their pension ‘might’ be invested in, they’re more likely to take an interest.
- Feedback and data can help organisations to shape better benefits packages and reduce costs. Does your software system allow people to write comments (anonymously if they like) and does it tell you which benefits are most and least popular among different age groups?
- And last but certainly not least: admin support. Top benefits software can pick up the burden of administration by generating and delivering documentation like P11D reports and assist with joiners or leavers to your company’s benefits scheme. Benefits admin can be an incredibly laborious process. Part of the issue is that what’s on offer may be different for different employees, for example if benefits are triggered by tenure or seniority. And as entitlements and eligibility change, employees will need to be notified. In some companies, this is still done manually, but it doesn’t have to be.