The challenge for most businesses at this time of economic uncertainty is about having and creating a work environment where the employee benefits being provided support the performance and wellbeing of all employees.
Over the last eight months as a benefits provider we have found that more and more companies are recognising the value of having a happy and healthy workforce. The difficulty that many businesses have found is how to put in a simple benefits structure that is easily communicated with all staff? Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the many HR issues around effect reward and recognition of employees and the delivery of good communication support.
That is why there has been a shift by businesses large and small to look at using technology to help them stay agile, resilient, and importantly connected with all employees.
The changing world accelerated due to COVID-19
The rate of digital transformation is increasing and reshaping industries. At Busy Bees Benefits we strive to enable our business customers to accelerate their outcomes by providing a new benefit platform model, that creates new employee experiences, and not just increase operational efficiency. We believe the world is hybrid and that we are at the edge of new technology that will see a faster unleashing of an industrial ‘internet of things’ revolution. By this we mean how we help employers connect and engage with employees over devices and systems over the internet.
Affordable and accessible benefits platforms
The benefits industry has traditionally shaped its services to cater for large employers, developing complex flexible benefit solutions as a response in delivering reward and benefit provision. These flex solutions often require expensive IT time and resource and become long term contractual commitments.
With the growth of digitisation however, there are now much less complex platform solutions available that offer agile, digitally enabled tools and which are easier to use as they don’t require staff selection windows. These new platforms offer employers a more cost-effective way to move forward with their reward and benefits packages.
COVID-19 has also meant that companies need new online portals for communication, employee support, feedback, and for employees to be able to see and access their benefits.
How much should I be paying for a benefits platform?
Therefore, reward and benefit platforms solutions business must be quick and have low costs to set up and maintain. Here I am talking about set up and running annual costs of below £50,000 a year for large national employers with staff numbers of 10,000 to 100,000, and between £2,000 to £40,000 a year for employers with 100 to 5,000 staff. The benefit platforms must also cater for the large numbers of small businesses employing even smaller numbers of staff.
Employers whatever their size, need to work with small agile benefit platform providers that embrace remote working and understand speed of delivery. These new platform providers can deliver many of the features that traditional flexible benefit platforms provide: they incorporate company branding, have built in employee communications, offer the full range of reward and benefits products, including employee messaging, peer to peer recognition and importantly a full range of wellbeing services. A key attribute is that they only take days to set up and involve no complex payroll alignments. Their aim is straight forward: to keep the provision of employee benefits simple, to take away complexity from over stretched HR teams and improve the reach of benefit provision in the UK. By the time an employer pays for a complex flexible benefits platform solution they could have paid for many of the benefits that they are thinking of providing.
What benefits can I provide?
Access to health and wellbeing is also fully supported by the new platforms given the increased demand for these services because of the pandemic, with common benefits including virtual GP services, private medical insurance and cashplans, employee assistance programmes, financial protection covering life cover, income protection and critical illness.
To help motivate and manage staff working remotely the platform should also offer rewards and discounts, peer to peer recognition, health information and support. The role that these products play in future is growing in importance, as employees will be focused on leading healthier lives post the pandemic.
New services such as health coaching, on-site health screening, risk and workplace assessments, and occupational health are likely to increase in importance as the focus shifts to managing health resilience, in a world where remote working becomes a significant way of working and social distancing becomes a core feature of both working and social life.
Whilst speaking of technology, the COVID-19 crisis should also be the spur for all employers irrespective of size of their business to move more of the systems and applications that they use to the ‘cloud’. The reason for this, is that businesses will need to adapt and introduce on-going new social distancing practices and protocols. Having robust systems based in the ‘cloud’ offers much greater bandwidth and capacity than if staff are accessing on-premise servers remotely.
These are extremely challenging times given the COVID-19 spikes, for individuals, families, businesses and indeed for the whole society and economy. The benefits industry has a key role to play in supporting employees and their families through the crisis and the recovery. The key message for employers is that the coming year is an opportunity to create an integrated, healthy, and productive employee experience by introducing a new breed of benefits platform.
Managing Director Busy Bees Benefits
Provider of the SmartHive Platform www.busybeesbenefits.com
Smart Hive is an integrated, cost effective employee benefits platform that provides your employees with access to all their health and wellbeing benefits in one place. Talk to a member of our team today or book your very own demonstration.