It wasn’t that long ago that technology-enabled benefits platforms were a rare find. Now, a business’ ability to successfully engage employees with its benefits program depends heavily on consumer-grade software such as online benefits portals. Employees’ expectations have become more digitally-focused and employers have to adapt to meet them. As a result, more and more companies are starting to prioritize delivering streamlined, technology-enabled user experiences that truly engage employees for the entirety of their careers.
Through interactions with consumer technology, we have grown accustomed to intuitive, effortless online experiences that we can access at any time. As employees, we want the same experience. To truly engage employees with their benefits, employers need a system that allows them access to their benefits at any time, in any place, and that make it as easy as possible for their employees to take advantage of the benefits packages available to them. It’s this understanding of the consumer influence on enterprise technology and user experience, combined with early tech adoption that enables companies to can gain a competitive advantage through their benefits programs.
The early-adopter advantage
Early adopters of benefits technology are a step ahead of their competitors when it comes to retaining their employees and keeping them engaged. Thomsons Online Benefits’ recent Global Employee Benefits Watch 2017/18 research found that those employers who have had global benefits technology in place for three or more years are seven times more likely to effectively meet their business objectives than those who were slower to adopt. By having access to benefits data generated by online platforms, early-adopters have a more accurate picture of their workforce and their needs, which enables them to develop more strategic and unique benefits programs for their workforce. They can then become more targeted and personalized with their benefits communications, while building relevant benefits programs that align with employees’ life goals.
Consumer influence on enterprise technology
Enterprise technology has consistently lagged behind consumer technology in terms of its user experience. But, as B2B designers have learned from their consumer counterparts, enterprise software design is catching up. As employers attempt to use their benefits spend —which can account for up to 20 percent of payroll — more strategically, they’ve placed increasing emphasis on ensuring that employees are engaged with their benefits to ensure ROI can be demonstrated. To achieve this, they must commit to making employees’ benefit interactions a consistently straight-forward and painless experience.
In order to reduce the learning curve for new users, enterprise tech developers are following the same UX design principles that are ingrained in consumer applications, such as decluttering the user interface, making navigation self-evident, and creating finger-friendly large touch targets. That said, investing in an attractive front-end user interface is only valuable if the back-end technology can deliver the predictability, speed and service that users expect. Employees today will often use an average of nine apps — both consumer and enterprise — in their everyday lives and access 30 per month, so they expect their workplace technology apps to offer the same streamlined experience that they receive as consumers.
The experience effect
An employee’s experience with benefits technology has a huge influence on take-up. If employees are forced to deal with overcomplicated applications only accessible via desktop, they will be disinterested and disengaged from the start.
Many employers find it impossible to get an overall picture of their benefits engagement. The data might exist, but it’s not always easily accessible. Only certain platforms allow organizations to clearly view their benefits take-up, and as a result, measure the ROI of their benefits spend.
Organizations achieving the highest employee engagement rates are able to gather and analyze multiple data points, most importantly benefits uptake, and then adjust the offering based on the benefits that appeal most to their employees. Benefits offerings that are designed to reflect specific wants and needs leave employees feeling valued and appropriately rewarded. This feeling of appreciation has a positive impact on engagement levels, work quality, productivity and, as a result, business success.