Already have a benefit strategy planned for the new year? Check out the knowledge pill from AskHenry and HearMe!

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We’ve barely looked back, and already the middle of January has passed. For some, the start of a new year is a time to take stock and set plans for the coming months. HR departments also have their hands full – reviewing and balancing costs, preparing vacation plans, evaluating employees, preparing budgets. Benefit budgets, too – hence we invite you to a recap of a conversation between Nicole Tomanek (Head of People & Culture at AskHenry) and Kasia Gryzło (CEO of HearMe & Emplomind) about benefits in many dimensions, so you can learn how you can streamline and accelerate the creation of your own benefit strategy!

Breakthrough in 2023 in the benefits industry?

The year 2023 was a period of hardship for employee benefits due to budget cuts. Companies, under pressure, began to review and audit their programs. As a result, the focus was on preserving valuable benefits that actually benefit employees and are actively used. During this unique time, it was noticed that traditional, sometimes rarely used benefits were no longer sufficient. This change proved beneficial, prompting a more conscious approach to planning benefit offerings.

Despite the challenges faced, this period allowed companies to emerge stronger and more aware of their expectations for benefits in 2023. Entering 2024, companies will focus on providing valuable benefits that truly meet the needs and expectations of their employees.

This is such luck in misfortune. Often the Achilles’ heel of HR professionals is precisely the management of these benefits. Until a benefit is implemented in the organization, it is interesting. We communicate it, it’s all great, but then somehow we forget to track that satisfaction, that engagement, usability. – Nicole noted.

Pandemic and its impact on work-life-balance

The undisputed number one in the world of employee benefits is the medical insurance package, and in the era of pandemics it has become even more important. Health has become a priority since the very beginning of the global crisis, becoming an essential part of our lives but also a source of uncertainty. Surveys and conversations with companies show that since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have become more consciously concerned about our health and the health of loved ones.

Now, approaching the fourth year since the start of the pandemic, workplace flexibility is becoming more common. Hybrid work, which allows employees more freedom to organize their work time, is a hot topic and gaining more attention. It is worth considering whether hybrid work should be treated as a stand-alone benefit or an integral part of company policy.

Benefit evolution towards unconventionality

In the past year, we have witnessed a watershed moment when unconventional benefits began to break into the mainstream, the consciousness of employees and HR departments. Traditional benefits, though they still exist, began to give way to innovative solutions.

Unlike the well-known benefits that are available to everyone, we decided to follow a different path. We began to establish partnerships with ambassadors and partners. Our promotion is also based on knowledge – we have become educators, seeking to popularize and share knowledge with a wide audience. This not only builds our visibility, but also sets us apart from traditional approaches.

One of the key elements of our strategy is expertise. We realize that sharing our knowledge as experts in a particular field has a huge impact on our reputation and the trust of our customers. Through this approach, we not only promote our services, but also support the development of knowledge in the community. – Nicole mentions.

Focus on individual needs

Benefit personalization is a key trend that is becoming increasingly important starting in 2020. Modern benefits, such as the emphasis on personalization, allow employees to benefit from dedicated support depending on their current needs.

Examples include the introduction of a personal assistant or psychological support that is available to every employee. Whether you are single, the parent of an infant or a teenager, this serves to support you on issues important to you at the time. You can ask for help in organizing your daily life or schedule an interview with a psycho-dietitian or coach to prepare for difficult business conversations.

Creating a flexible offer that adapts to the individual needs of employees – with this we can provide support at key moments when an employee faces challenges or needs specialized help. This is not only a trend, but also a philosophy that contributes to team satisfaction and engagement.

Benefit for everyone?

It is a common belief that certain benefits only work in specific sectors, but the data collected by HearMe clearly contradicts this thesis.

Our psychological support program, although initially associated with corporate employees, has surprisingly garnered huge interest among manufacturing workers. Companies in the manufacturing sector are increasingly willing to introduce this benefit, as our numbers confirm.

However, communicating with different groups of employees requires a flexible approach. In the case of production workers or contractors who don’t have a company email, we focus on alternative channels, such as posters, newspapers or brochures, which allows us to effectively reach these groups. – Kasia says.

Nowadays, we can see that employees’ expectations are shaping benefits and they are closely linked to social, cultural or are political changes, even in a specific country or region.

One of the key trends is the growing role of artificial intelligence and data analytics in shaping benefit offerings. This allows benefits to be tailored to individual employees’ needs using advanced technologies.

Modern benefits are increasingly covering the area of financial education, responding to rising inflation and the cost of living. Companies are increasingly willing to offer support related to financial lobbying. Examples include personal finance education, budget planning or even financial coaching, helping employees understand key issues such as financial cushion and investments.

In today’s big cities, where the traditional adage “the whole village raises the child” is losing its meaning, modern families are struggling with a lack of support from family and friends. Demographic changes mean that parents often work far from their loved ones, facing the challenge of a lack of available support. In this context, benefits for parents are becoming a key element of support in today’s work environment. Supporting young parents is an exciting trend seen in 2024 and beyond. Companies that offer flexible work hours, child care or educational programs are gaining more employee engagement.

It is crucial to understand that the boundaries between work and private life are increasingly blurred. An employee’s well-groomed private life has an impact on his or her efficiency, creativity and productivity at work. Companies that invest in comprehensive support for employees, both professionally and personally, build a more balanced and effective work environment.

How to plan a strategy?

Benefit introduction is not just a formal contract, but a full-fledged partnership, where the key element is to clearly articulate the goals and expectations of the new benefit. Treat the supplier as a partner who actively supports our goals and strives for the success of the implementation. It is worthwhile for the goals to be measurable and allow for evaluation of the effectiveness of the benefit being introduced.

An integral part of this partnership is the active involvement of the supplier in the implementation process. An onboarding plan, developed jointly, enables an understanding of how the benefits fit into the company culture. Implementation communications, like webinars or educational materials, should be developed collaboratively to provide employees with a full understanding and support in using the new benefits.

Successful benefit introduction requires not only a formal process, but also the involvement of key figures within the company. When leaders and management become benefit ambassadors, the whole process becomes real.

Leave or resign?

When is the best time to decide whether to keep a particular benefit in the organization or give it up?

Companies should only pay for benefits that give value to employees and are used by employees. – Kasia notes.

During regular meetings with suppliers, it is important to analyze data regarding employee engagement and benefit use. It’s also worth surveying employee satisfaction by asking about their evaluation of specific benefits. Decisions on whether to keep or drop benefits become more justified, based on real data and employee needs.