New benefits platforms increase usage and help retain employees

One of the tactics more and more organizations are using in their total quest to attract and retain employees is to bolster their benefits programs. Understanding that salary and benefits alone are not enough to keep employees motivated and content, HR and benefits managers in many industries are expanding their non-salary offerings such as wellness allowances, flexible working arrangements, student loan repayments, family formation allowances, pet insurance, etc.

But the reality is that even the best benefits programs won’t succeed if the allowances aren’t easy for employees to use, if employees aren’t aware of what’s available to them, or if the administrative burden of administering benefits is too small. too cumbersome for small HR teams. . Such issues can lead to low utilization rates, poor return on investment on benefits, and missed opportunities to use benefits to help retain workers.

More customization, less paperwork

The need to address these challenges is one of the reasons why some HR leaders have started using a new generation of benefits technology platforms. One such leader is Stacie Justice, head of people operations for IZotope, an audio technology company in Boston, who chose to partner with benefits platform provider Compt in an effort to provide benefits options. more personalized to IZotope’s global workforce while reducing HR administrative workload.

The platform allows Justice to give employees more voice in choosing the benefits that are right for them. “We wanted to personalize and globalize the benefits for our workforce because our approach had been too regional in nature,” Justice said.

Administering a benefits program can be difficult when a business expands internationally, she said, with different currencies, tax laws and requirements such as mandatory benefits. The Compt platform helps them meet these challenges.

It’s also been proven that giving employees more choice when it comes to benefits increases utilization rates and helps improve employee retention. For example, experts say that employees often define wellness in different ways, and offering various options for physical, mental, or financial wellness benefits means more needs are met.

“You can get super high engagement when you double down on personalizing employee benefits,” said Amy Spurling, co-founder and CEO of Compt. “Strong engagement shows that employees are using benefits in a way that matters to them and that you are also making it easy for them to access the benefits they want when they want them. It’s important to have benefits that match your company’s culture and values, but can also be customized to employee needs.”

Another benefit of these new technology platforms, HR leaders say, is an improved ability to track benefits spending across the organization and use that data to inform future decisions.

“When you put money on an employee’s paycheck for benefits, you don’t always know exactly what they’re spending it on,” Justice said. “With the new platform, employees submit receipts that are documented through the software, giving us a better understanding of what the allowances are for.”

This increased visibility makes it easier for Justice to identify trends and adjust benefit offerings for greater appeal and profitability. “As an example, when we saw the growing use and demand for individual Peloton memberships among employees, it convinced us to create a corporate membership account for Peloton and offer pricing. reduced to our employees,” she said.

Benefit value consolidation, self-service tools

Benepass is another next-gen benefits technology platform that can personalize benefit offerings, reduce the number of benefit providers, and reduce administrative burden on HR.

The technology consolidates an organization’s pre-tax benefits and company-funded allowances on a single platform and provides employees with a mobile app and web portal to track their benefits spending, request reimbursements and monitor balances. . Employees also receive a virtual Benepass Visa card with their company-sponsored benefit funds to use at preferred merchants.

“We wanted to create a simple, easy-to-use, consolidated platform,” said Jaclyn Chen, CEO of New York-based Benepass. “It allows companies to create benefits programs that support their culture and values, but also provides the flexibility for employees to choose the benefits that matter most to them while reducing the bureaucracy of administering benefits. advantages.”

Consolidating access to all employee benefits options on one platform can have hidden benefits, Chen believes. “Oftentimes, employees don’t even know what perks or perks they have available to them,” she said. “People can come to the platform intending to pay for one of these benefits, but then see all the other benefits available to them. It’s a good reminder of what they have access to in total. .”

Elspeth Arnold, human resources operations manager for Automox, an IT operations platform provider in Boulder, Colorado, chose to partner with Benepass in an effort to improve appeal and utilization rates of his company’s benefits program. She was also drawn to how the platform could make tax compliance and benefit management easier for her staff.

“Perks like gift cards are hard to track and often go unused,” Arnold said. “This platform makes it easy to recognize employees with a monetary reward of any amount. Employees can use their benefits anywhere Visa Benepass is accepted, but unlike a gift card, we don’t spend the money also makes it easier to track expenses, and compliance related to employee tax on benefits is a breeze.”

Reduced tax compliance and administrative workloads

Platforms like Compt make it easier for businesses to categorize taxable and non-taxable benefits, go beyond the use of cumbersome spreadsheets, and eliminate manual work by integrating benefit transactions directly in payroll systems.

“This frees up HR and finance to have time on their calendars since they no longer spend as many hours tracking taxes or managing vendors,” Spurling said.

Justice hailed the platform’s new tax compliance features. “This simplifies payroll processing around benefits and reduces the amount of manual effort required to reimburse employees for expenses such as one-time expenses,” she said. “We also have different global payrolls, and the platform makes it easy to produce multiple allowance programs in the different countries where we operate.”

Employee self-service features on platforms such as Benepass can also save HR time having to answer employee questions about benefits programs. Workers can use these tools to get faster responses to their queries.

“Employees usually have questions like how much is left in their annual benefit balance or how to sign up for a benefit like a gym membership,” Chen said. “These questions find an intrinsic answer in the platform’s functionalities.”

Dave Zielinski is director of Skiwood Communications, a business writing and publishing company in Minneapolis.