Four Steps to Implementing an Effective Online Benefits Platform

Four Steps to Implementing an Effective Online Benefits Platform
June 4, 2024 23 mins

Four Steps to Implementing an Effective Online Benefits Platform

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Online benefits platforms are a key component of the overall employee value proposition. As employers maximize the ROI of their people spend, here are four tips which may assist with implementing a successful online benefits platform.

Key Takeaways
  1. Employees want to maximize the benefits available to them; designing a program that meets their needs and is locally relevant can improve benefit uptake and engagement.
  2. Technology is a key enabler to successfully execute a program centered on employee choice.
  3. Using technology to manage benefits can reduce the administrative burden on HR, but it needs to be done in coordination with the program’s design and execution.

Faced with a tight labor market, deteriorating employee health and rising healthcare costs, businesses are juggling their people spend with enhancing the employee value proposition (EVP). And they are doing this at a time when organizations are using technology to drive efficiency and rely less on internal resources. This often results in outsourcing benefit technology and administration, which can provide a disconnected benefit experience.

As a result of this dynamic, we are seeing an increased demand to scale online benefits platforms across the workforce. An effective platform should provide:

  • A consistent global baseline for the employee experience
  • Technology and automation to manage enrollments and integrations; this will drive data flows from HR systems directly to providers via the employee portal
  • Increasing employee awareness of total rewards, with a focus on pay transparency
  • Access to data for both employers and employees to allow for smarter decisions about benefit choices

Here are four ways to design a benefit program can achieve these goals.

1. Focus on global consistency with local customization.

Multinational organizations should take a global viewpoint to ensure consistency and equity across the organization — especially in an era of pay transparency and equity. Once this is established, they will need to bring in a local viewpoint to ensure compliance, cultural relevance and competitiveness within local markets. Creating a global database allows scaling so that local teams don’t have to deal with the more technical, subtle issues, thus resulting in faster regional solutions.

Case study: Customizing Benefits Management for a Leading Pharmaceutical Company

A multinational pharmaceutical company wanted to provide its 80,000 employees across several countries with a comprehensive and consistent benefit management experience that still allowed for local flexibility. Another goal was to better understand the cost of HR administration. Using Aon’s The Benefits Solution (TBS), we assisted to provide consistent global branding with local adaptations on the platform to deliver benefits at an individual country level. As a result, the client now has:

  • An overall view across the globe with the ability to drill down to the country point of view
  • Resources in country that understand the details and nuances of the benefit practices in those countries
  • Promotion of the corporate benefit philosophy and governance through a streamlined approval process
  • Communication of the clients’ total investment in employees through a total rewards module on the benefit platform
Potential pitfalls can happen when:
  • You don’t have the local expertise to implement the right technology.

    When it comes to technology, local teams should concentrate on communication, content and how the benefits function. For example, when choosing the design and layout content of your online benefits platform, it’s important to make sure your platform is inclusive and doesn’t violate any local digital accessibility laws.

  • You focus on technology alone.

    A vital element of your online benefits strategy is choosing a technology platform that is user-friendly and engaging. But you need more than just a fancy online interface to achieve real success. You also need to use data and analytics to generate actionable insights that can help continuously improve your program. This can ensure optimal pricing for benefits that are suitable and well-managed.

#4

Failure to attract or retain top talent is the fourth biggest risk facing organizations globally and is predicted to remain the fourth most critical risk by 2026.

Source: Aon’s ninth Global Risk Management Survey

2. Integrate total rewards in one platform to increase engagement with benefits.

Having compensation and benefits under one platform allows employees to see the full picture of what they are receiving. The right technology can provide a user-friendly experience that proactively suggests benefit options based on data-driven knowledge of employees. This then encourages employees to use benefits they may not have known were available to them, offering more control over their financial decisions. For instance, after employees see retirement savings compared to other benefits, they may decide to participate in an Employee Stock Purchase Plan or contribute more toward their defined contribution plan.

Companies should have a framework for communicating total rewards in a customized way. By having the right integrations and data feeds, you can provide a real-time total rewards experience instead of a past snapshot.
Potential pitfalls can happen when:
  • Companies juggle multiple vendors, forcing employees to visit various websites for benefit information.

    This can cause confusion and less engagement with benefits. It also dilutes the firm’s EVP because it’s difficult for employees to see the full value of the benefits they receive from their employer.

  • Vendors don't exchange information.

    This causes data gaps to occur between portals. Imagine a scenario where a firm’s benefit portal either does not include or has insufficient information about uninsured benefits that could supplement the costs of an insured benefit.

  • The data is not current.

    Not using up-to-date data and analytics can lead to suboptimal decision-making and a less effective benefit program.

  • Accessibility is not optimized.

    When choosing the design and layout of an online benefits platform, care should be taken to ensure it is inclusive so that all employees can access and use the platform.

3. House data in a single, accessible location to improve data insights and pay transparency.

When an organization's global data is stored in a compatible platform instead of a mixture of local solutions that must communicate with each other, companies can more efficiently access information. This could include easy access to compare benefits and receive total rewards statements. Having the data in one location simplifies the gathering of data from various sources and offers unlimited storage, enabling quick and precise access to valuable insights.

Having immediate access to data also helps companies respond to market trends such as pay transparency.

Quote icon

Online benefits platforms can support pay transparency by providing employees with access to their total compensation statements, market data, benefit choices and the employer's benefit philosophy.

Andrew Krawczyk
Commercial Leader, Health Solutions, Europe, the Middle East and Africa
Potential pitfalls can happen when:
  • Data is misinterpreted.

    Having multiple data sources on different platforms can lead to confusion. Maybe you have overlooked a crucial data set and are not seeing the whole picture. The risk of mistakes grows when you compare data across different platforms.

  • Data sets are disconnected, potentially losing valuable insights.

    Data analysis can identify and mitigate risks, customize benefit options and target specific demographics with voluntary interventions. An integrated platform can lower the chance of data gaps, misunderstanding and loss of useful insights by consolidating data from multiple sources into a single, centralized system. By having all the data in one place, it is easier to identify and address any gaps or inconsistencies in the data. Additionally, an integrated platform can automate data collection and validation processes, reducing the risk of human error and further minimizing the chances of data gaps.

4. Build a communications strategy into the early stages of plan development.

Employers should not only focus on launching the online benefits program itself. They should also spend time developing and deploying an employee communications program that explains available benefits and how to use the platform. If engagement is low after spending considerable time and resources designing the benefit program, the cause is likely related to a lack of communication.

Potential pitfalls can happen when:
  • Communication is an afterthought.

    If a communications plan isn’t built into the beginning stages of the online benefits program, the platform launch is unlikely to be a success. Efforts to customize benefits to meet the unique needs of the workforce and implement local solutions require a well-executed roll-out.

  • Ongoing communications aren’t included in the plan.

    Multiple channels of communication (e.g., email, company intranet, in-person meetings) should be used to reach all employees with updates whenever they occur. Encourage ongoing feedback and address any concerns or questions employees may have throughout the process.

Making Better Decisions for Your Online Benefits Platform

Benefits are a critical component of total rewards and a firm’s EVP. Maximize their value by investing in a program that is locally relevant with a platform that incorporates total rewards, allowing both the employee and employer to make better decisions.

The Benefits Solution (TBS) is a flexible technology platform that helps companies implement their benefit strategy and collect valuable data to inform future choices.

Quote icon

Without a coherent communications plan, your efforts are futile. By analyzing data on employee demographics, behavior, and preferences, you can identify the target audience for your communications and customize your messaging accordingly.

David Kirk
Growth Leader - Technology, Health Solutions, United Kingdom
Aon’s Thought Leaders
  • Andrew Krawczyk
    Commercial Leader, Health Solutions, Europe, the Middle East and Africa
  • David Kirk
    Growth Leader - Technology, Health Solutions, United Kingdom

General Disclaimer

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and should not be relied on for any other purpose. You should consult with your own professional advisors before implementing any recommendation or following the guidance provided herein. Further, the information provided, and the statements expressed are not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information and use sources that we consider reliable, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. All descriptions, summaries or highlights of coverage are for general informational purposes only and do not amend, alter or modify the actual terms or conditions of any insurance policy. Coverage is governed only by the terms and conditions of the relevant policy.

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