Aon expert Jeff Fox looks at how employee benefits technology can support benefits strategy and improve employee experience.
Technology, employee data and management information (MI) can be used to provide a benefits proposition that employees want and value – and its rapidly evolving. Data is now inseparable from technology; technology facilitates data, and data informs technological solutions. We are seeing technology shift away from pure enrolment functionality to machine learning and artificial intelligence. Using data at its core, technology can be pro-active in anticipating wants and needs – at an individual level, as well as providing aggregated data that helps to inform strategic decisions. People have complex lives, and the one-size-fits-all approach is being left behind; technology is a key enabler in this transformation.
Technology can also help us analyse how employee expectations have changed over time; and potentially help us predict how they may evolve in the future. Data in its raw form is pretty useless, but technology can transform it into providing layers of insights; it produces a view that allows patterns and trends to be pieced together and interpreted. As a result, those in our industry know that employees expect a benefit experience that is closer to a retail experience, especially disruptors like Amazon, more than ever before. Employees don’t want to wait until the annual enrolment to buy a benefit, they want to be able to opt in and out of an insurance when it suits them. They want a better user experience, an accessible interface and technology which can facilitate the decisions they need to make at the point they want to make them. Technology can take raw data and offer a flexible experience that anticipates needs and gives options before the employees even knew they had a need.
Technology is ever-evolving, and as a result we are seeing that the systems utilised in employee benefits are changing too. The classic benefits portal is typically the engine for insights; organisations pour the data in and – usually with the help of a provider – design the experience to suit. The good portals support both employees and the employer. A great example is the Aon benefit portal TBS, which offers a Cube module. This takes the data and gives employers everything they need to know about how benefits are performing. These insights range from engagement metrics such as participation, user demographic information, and data around the impact on employee wellbeing. This allows an employer to assess how well their spend is being allocated, because they can see the impact it has on their workforce through measurable data. Not only is this data based on real-word experience, it can also be utilised in real-time. Employers can take an agile approach to benefits, because the data its immediately accessible. Not only can this be more cost effective, it can also allow for continuous optimisation.
One of the major recent developments in the benefits technology market is the introduction of neurotechnology. We’ve seen that the classic employee listening process is typically a survey, which may have poor uptake and not drive true insights. Now more than ever, it is critical that employers understand what employees really need from their benefits package. Neurotechnology can help employers get to the heart of what employees truly think, by removing the underlying bias from insights which often accompany a traditionally survey. It’s still emerging technology, but we’ve seen a number of early adopters gain accurate actionable insights from our neurotech Reflection tool. Whether looking at an overarching benefits strategy or a specific suspected problem area, neurotechnology can help employers truly understand what their employees think and implement an action plan.
Companies may not adopt all of these techniques in the foreseeable future, but it’s clear that there the technological integration with employee benefits is only at the beginning of a very exciting trajectory.
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