Data and Analytics: The Essentials to Make Smarter Benefits Decisions

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Click to learn more about author Chris Bruce.

There is a treasure trove of data – from benefits selections and health care claims to sentiment analysis and viewpoints shared from internal surveys – waiting to be unearthed and utilized. By collecting, analyzing, and understanding that data, employers can make smarter decisions and, in turn, nudge employees to do the same. Data and analytics can also be used to highlight benefits and demonstrate their value to employees at the relevant time in both their lives and on their career paths.

And that is just the beginning. Our research shows that more than one-third (39%) of employers that currently use employee data to report on employee engagement are performing above their annual employee engagement score target. That’s nearly twice as many as those that do not intend to use data to look at engagement scores for at least three years (21%).

With data, employers can also offer benefits packages by department and/or location based on analytics. They can more accurately pinpoint what works and what doesn’t work in different areas instead of applying a blanket benefits program for the entire country. Data even makes it possible for organizations to reduce expenses without inadvertently eliminating the benefits employees actually want.

Clearly, there are a number of ways for employers to use data, but the unifying theme cannot be denied: Information not only informs but empowers organizations to make smarter benefits decisions and fulfill the needs of all employees. This has been particularly important during the pandemic, a time in which the technology gap between the haves and have nots has become more apparent. Benefits technology has proven to be invaluable over the last year, allowing businesses to quickly adapt to rapidly changing conditions.

Provide the Right Benefits at Precisely the Right Time

Our global study of approximately 1,500 companies worldwide found that nearly four-fifths (79%) now rate “employee health and safety” as their number-one concern. Almost three-quarters (71%) believe that “empathizing with employee and customer fears” is now essential to their success. This is further evidence of the need for businesses to support their staff, particularly during difficult periods.

Data and analytics have had a positive impact on employers’ ability to respond to change in the face of the pandemic. Our research shows that eight out of 10 HR teams use basic spreadsheets to collect and analyze employee data manually – an unnecessarily wasteful and time-consuming process that was only worsened by the pandemic. HR teams that were already equipped with the right benefits technology were prepared to react quickly and evolve with employees’ current needs, regardless of where they were working.

But we are all unique, so it would be impossible for the same benefits package to equally serve all employees. Organizations need to recognize the individuality of each staff member and the applicability of the accompanying financial investments, especially when it comes to benefits. 

Some individuals may be interested in traditional benefits, such as retirement funds, life insurance, and disability. Young parents may be thinking about childcare benefits, while those who have moved recently (or plan to in the near future) may be thinking about the various expenses associated with moving or owning a home, such as homeowners insurance. Others may be excited by the prospect of being able to freely choose from a selection of benefits, thus creating unique packages for each employee that meets their individual needs.

The central aspect here is personalization. By personalizing benefits, organizations can better meet employee needs – and get a better return on their investment. Benefits technology makes it possible to deliver exactly what employees need at the moment they need it, evolving with their careers and lifestyles. This has become especially important in today’s environment, which has transitioned many to remote working while creating heightened awareness regarding health and wellness. As a result, the benefits of yesterday may not be applicable to employee needs of today. It is critical for employers to be able to pivot quickly and offer the right benefits at the right time.

Use Data and Analytics to See How Employee Needs Are Evolving

HR professionals understand and appreciate the value of benefits personalization. Instead of a generic, universal approach that covers the whole country and is the same for everyone, they want to know how they can create benefits packages that meet the needs of their employees. This is an admirable goal, no question. It corresponds with our research, which shows that most (83%) HR decision-makers agree that all employees should have access to personalized benefits that suit them best.

But how can employers fulfill that goal? How can they actually develop and deploy benefits packages that match what employees want? The answer is data. Data allows employers to see what’s changing in benefits use, uptake, and decline. It empowers businesses to offer different benefits packages by department and/or office based on the information gathered through analytics. Without data, organizations won’t be able to see or evaluate any changes. They’ll be limited in their ability to uncover new insights and will not be able to make informed decisions about their benefits packages.

It is therefore essential for employers to use benefits technology that provides the data and analytics features that allow them to best serve their employees. Organizations can also use data to compare what works and what doesn’t in each area of the company, allowing HR professionals to ultimately put forth a winning benefits strategy. The advantages don’t stop there, however. Data can further help businesses reduce their expenses by eliminating benefits that aren’t being utilized, cutting out the guesswork while preventing any detrimental mistakes.

Fulfill Employee Expectations Without Compromise

Information is power, and with data and analytics, HR professionals are empowered to make smarter decisions. Data can guide them when creating benefits packages and enable them to cut costs without eliminating the benefits employees actually want and plan to continue using. If a particular benefit has declined in usage, data can reveal that as well. And with the right benefits technology, HR can tap into all of that information to provide a leading benefits offering, without compromise.

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