Driving Inclusion and Diversity with Employee Benefits

Driving Inclusion and Diversity with Employee Benefits
Workforce

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January 22, 2024 16 mins

Driving Inclusion and Diversity with Employee Benefits

Colleagues looking at a business plan

As organizations build diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace, they must also ensure benefit plans are designed and customized to meet the needs of a diverse workforce.

Key Takeaways
  1. DEIB is core to the employee value proposition — which many companies now view through the lens of benefits.
  2. Understanding the local market and unique needs of a workforce is critical when making benefit decisions.
  3. Benefits also need to have a degree of personalization that can be designed and delivered through data and technology.

Many employees and job candidates want to know companies are serious about their stated diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) values and goals. According to Aon’s 2022-2023 Global Wellbeing Survey, 80 percent of organizations think about DEIB, among other issues like health and safety, when it comes to employee wellbeing. An important way for employers to show their commitment to these topics and avoid the risk of losing talent is through the personalization of benefit programs. As competition for talent continues, aligning benefits with DEIB goals can ensure that a more diverse workforce feels a greater sense of belonging and inclusion.

“We are receiving a high volume of inquiries about how companies can design their total rewards to be more inclusive in supporting the greater diversity of today’s workforce needs. It’s really an urgent priority as our clients refine their approach and respond to new trends and legislation,” says Andrew Krawczyk, commercial leader for Aon’s Health Solutions practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“With this increased focus, and the modern analytical tools and capabilities at our disposal, we are well-positioned to assist these companies to make more informed decisions that will help meet these diverse workforce needs. Clients are seeking validation using modern perception studies and neuroscience technology to ensure employee views are being increasingly factored into decision making,” adds Krawczyk.

The challenge is that diversity covers a lot of ground. As companies continue to integrate DEIB into their benefit plan design, it’s critical to think holistically about the personalized options available and the technology needed to achieve them.

Adapting Benefit Frameworks to Support a Diverse Workforce 

With a growing focus on DEIB, many companies are ramping up efforts to ensure they have the functionality within their benefit program to support a wide range of employees. This starts with identifying the company’s benefit framework centrally. There are numerous approaches to meet the wide range of people within an organization when it comes to choosing benefit options. What do employees want and need in that particular organization? Are these goals realistic? Start with a focus on principles, objectives, levels of intended flexibility, and approaches to branding and communication. Once these are established, consider the mechanics for offering more flexibility within the organization, and evaluate market expectations and available vendors, if needed. 

After successfully determining a set of principles for their benefit design — the level of flexibility, what kinds of benefits they offer and what goals to reinforce — companies can start to use that framework to drill down locally. Diverse work cultures even exist within companies in the same country — and in some cases, one city alone. That’s why understanding the local market and needs of your employees is so important. 

There are significant differences in what can be done at a local level, including these three main levels of inputs: 

  1. The competitive environment and market expectations
  2. What is considered culturally acceptable in the organization 
  3. An understanding of the employee perspective  

benefits design

68%

Sixty-eight percent of companies with high levels of employee engagement have a broadly defined DEIB plan.

Source: Aon’s 2022 Global DE&I survey 

Measuring wellbeing is one effective way to help employers gain a baseline understanding of their workforce perspectives and needs. Tools like Reflection, Aon’s next generation employee listening technology, allow HR leaders to accurately know where an individual, team and organization as a whole stand on their benefit journey. Reflection uses neurotechnology to bypass conscious bias and tune into employees’ wants and needs on a much deeper level. Unlike traditional surveys, this form of data gathering is unbiased and provides an unfiltered view of what employees really think and feel, enabling better employee outcomes. The positive impact can be seen in areas like attrition, productivity, engagement and talent attraction, and ultimately supports further DEIB efforts.

71%

Seventy-one percent of HR leaders in Canada say their current benefits meet the DEIB needs of their workforce.

Source: Aon Pulse Survey – Setting the Agenda for 2023/24

“While the diverse needs of the workforce are something that has been in the spotlight for quite some time, few employers evolved their total rewards accordingly. By bringing together the right data and the technology, companies are now able to get from where they are today to where they need to be in a more cost-effective way, making meaningful change more feasible than ever before.” - Shikha Gaur, Chief Commercial Officer, Health Solutions, Asia

Case Study: Using a Points System to Give Employees a Choice in Benefits

As companies improve the flexibility and personalization of their benefits, new tactics are being used. This includes uninsured or voluntary benefits. Aon worked with a multinational client that had “flexibility” as its core pillar of its global total rewards strategy. The client’s main objective was to build more flexibility around benefits in a market where benefit programs were typically more fixed. By developing a range of benefits based on what’s important to employees’ specific lifestyles, the client broke down traditional barriers. In this approach, each employee was awarded points per year, allowing individuals to spend them as they wish on various perks and uninsured benefits, such as upgrading a company car, additional leave, lifestyle and wellbeing. With this bottom-up approach, the workforce is now ahead of the curve when it comes to having their voices heard.

Delivering Personalized Benefits Through Technology

Employers in the current market need to create a personalized experience that connects employees to the firm’s employee value proposition through wellbeing initiatives, benefits and total rewards.

Benefit technology tools like Aon’s The Benefits Solution (TBS), available to clients in more than 90 countries around the world, can also serve as a key driver of employee engagement and data-based decisions. These platforms are highly customizable. They can be set up with variance to account for differences at the country, employee type and individual employee level. This allows companies to effectively deliver their benefit strategy, while gathering data insights to power future decisions, both globally and locally.

The right platform will also customize benefit enrollment and voluntary benefit options for global and local offerings, presenting them in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-access way. Technology can even recommend options during enrollment periods based on past preferences.

From advanced markets to low demand markets, the innovative capabilities of tools like TBS help capture and leverage localized data to determine the right solutions for each region.

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As pushes toward DEIB create more diverse workforces with more diverse needs, cutting through the noise and developing a highly effective benefit plan can only be done with the right data, analysis, expertise and technology.

“The leading organizations in the benefits arena will not stop at a well-designed once-a-year benefit strategy to fit DEIB values and goals,” says Terry Gostelow, health and benefits principal in Aon’s Health Solutions practice in the United Kingdom. “They’ll leverage real-time data to continuously evolve a platform-enabled ecosystem that adds value to their employees.”

Aon’s Thought Leaders
  • Shikha Gaur
    Head of Digital Consumer Benefits in Asia-Pacific, Health Solutions, Aon
  • Terry Gostelow
    Health and Benefits Principal, Health Solutions, United Kingdom
  • David Kirk
    Growth Leader - Technology, Health Solutions, United Kingdom
  • Andrew Krawczyk
    Commercial Leader, Health Solutions, Europe, the Middle East and Africa

55%

Over half of HR professionals traditionally surveyed say their company embeds DEIB in retention plans compared to 31 percent when asked using a neurotechnology survey.

Source: Aon’s Neurotech Survey of HR Professionals in the UK - HR Future Focus

General Disclaimer

This document is not intended to address any specific situation or to provide legal, regulatory, financial, or other advice. While care has been taken in the production of this document, Aon does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the document or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way by any person who may rely on it. Any recipient shall be responsible for the use to which it puts this document. This document has been compiled using information available to us up to its date of publication and is subject to any qualifications made in the document.

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