Benefits professionals are under pressure. The cost of providing benefits is rising, fuelled predominantly by the increase in health insurance and pensions costs associated largely with an ageing workforce. This can be seen most starkly in the United States, where, according to the Bureau of Labor1 Statistics, benefits accounted for 32% of total employer compensation costs.

So it is not surprising that benefits are under renewed scrutiny by the C-suite. 

As a result, benefits administration is coming to the fore as a key area where savings can be made. At the same time, this intense inspection is revealing to HR teams that a one size fits all approach to benefits will simply not do. Today’s employees resist categorization, demanding exceptional and individualized employee experiences, underpinned by trust and transparency… and they expect this from their benefits experience too.

However, this is not the only pressure on benefits professionals, who face a conflicting set of priorities. This year’s research shows that the number one global benefits strategy objective is now to “attract and retain talent”, followed by “enhancing employee engagement.”

This shows just how the benefits function has evolved from one that provides security and protection, to being a powerful means of attracting and engaging talent.

As a result, benefits professionals are reaching a tipping point; there are so many demands on the function that inaction is no longer an option.

Moving towards a digital-first consumer experience

Market leaders are moving towards a digital-first experience of benefits. But what is required of HR teams to enable this? The first step must be to look at their global benefits strategy holistically and align it with their people strategy. 

We uncover how organizations are delivering personalized support to employees anywhere, anytime. Achievable only through integrating multiple vendor platforms to provide a seamless, flexible experience for employees – demonstrating tangible success and providing employees with a personalized experience of benefits and the ability to demonstrate ROI.

A benefits function in flux

How are benefits professionals stepping up to the mark and making a credible business case for investment in technology to meet the multiple demands on their time? Through digitization they can now provide much-needed clarity on spend and focus their time on high-value strategic work for the HR function, while providing certainty that every base is covered when it comes to employee coverage and compliance with local legislation.

Technology is undoubtedly changing the function of benefits professionals. They are in a constant state of flux as their purpose shifts from administration and delivery – which is becoming increasingly automated – to a more strategic, data-driven role.

Data: the benefits game-changer

For benefits professionals to meet the demands of their changing roles, they will rely not only on tech, but data too. Satisfying the appetite of the C-suite for ROI and assurance that all legislative and administrative requirements are being met can only be done with hard data and the HR team needs to be 100% confident it will stand up to their scrutiny. Not only that, but data will unlock the ability to provide the consumer experience that will set their organization apart in the eyes of employees. Without insights about employee preferences, a personalized approach to benefits (and communication about those benefits) simply cannot be achieved.

To find out more, download our latest Global Employee Benefits Watch 2018 report