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An employee experience-centered approach to updating benefits

As most HR leaders know, employees are a company’s most important asset. One of the biggest competitive differentiators a company has when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees is what a company can offer in the way of benefits.

At Envoy, we know that the employee experience is critical when it comes to any employee-focused program, and benefits are a great example of how placing the experience at the center of a programmatic refresh can lead to meaningful and impactful changes. 

Whenever the HR team embarks on a new project, one of our main goals is to make the experience as seamless, productive, culturally relevant and enjoyable as possible. So how did we look at our most recent benefits refresh with the employee experience in mind? And what elements should you consider as you think about enhancing your benefits program?

What to consider when updating your benefits program

First, you want to make sure you know what matters most to your stakeholders. With benefits, employees are the stakeholders, so you need to dig deep to understand the employee population. As with any good strategic initiative, you must know your audience and what matters most to them.

We consulted external research to understand not only benchmarks and best practices, but also where there are options to do something new to challenge the status quo. Where can we exceed expectations by turning a traditional employee experience on its head and pioneer a new way of doing things?

Keep the following tenants in mind when it comes to your benefits evaluation to ensure the employee experience is front and center in determining what benefits you want to expand, add, or remove if they no longer served your teams.

How to execute an effective benefits refresh

If you are considering a benefits review and refresh, we encourage you to think about how the employee experience will shape how you approach, evaluate and plan updates to the program. 

1) Ask for input and feedback—and think proactively about how to use it

We conduct formal benefits surveys, but also ask people regularly what benefits would be most helpful to them and their families. We use Slack channels to solicit feedback and evaluate every question employees or candidates ask about benefits. This is a great way way to better understand what is on their minds and how you can provide solutions before employees even need to ask.

2) Improve experiences by reducing friction

Knowing that parental leave was an area that employees valued, we knew we wanted to expand how much paid time off we provided to all parents, regardless of gender or how the child comes into the family, to provide a consistent experience for everyone.

The process for completing all the state-required paperwork can be a challenge (to say the least!), so we also implemented a leave administration tool that helps reduce the paperwork burden on employees. Instead of focusing on filling out forms, employees can spend more time with the new addition to their family.

3) Connect with leadership to see what they find valuable

We suggest you regularly connect with leadership on what they think will be valuable for their employees. Because the leadership team plays a huge role in company culture, you should make sure to talk to them about their values. This way your benefits are truly meaningful and the leadership team feels good about endorsing and promoting them.

4) Experiment, iterate, and innovate

Because employees grow and change, the benefits you offer have to be reflective of current needs. It’s important to constantly review trends, news, and benchmarks and ask, “what do employees need today? What can we do better?” That way, when you know a benefit is no longer useful, you can replace it with one that is. 

For example, one area that became increasingly more important was having mobile access to insurance information. We knew it was a bad experience when an employee forgot their insurance card at the doctor or when they weren’t sure how to upload an FSA claim submission.

We made sure that our benefits broker could provide a useful app that employees would actually be excited to use, where they could instantly see all their insurance information—from deductible to digital consultation access—in one place. We also expanded what was formerly a gym credit to add a wellness component, knowing that employees want options besides just being able to visit a traditional fitness outpost. 

Invest in your employees and their families

One of our goals as a company is to make Envoy a place we are all proud to represent, and we know benefits are a key element in making people feel well equipped in life and at work. By helping people feel that we understand their needs, and by experimenting with key elements of our benefits evaluation, we have been able to create a unique, meaningful, impactful benefits package.

We suggest you think of it as more than just a set of benefits, but as a way to rethink providing real value to employees and investing in your employees and their families. 

For more ideas on how you can create great experiences for your employees across the board, read more about how to use employee feedback and what employees want from the workplace experience.

Written in partnership with Amy Wei, HR Generalist at Envoy