Home » Industry » Helping Employers Navigate the New Employee Benefits Landscape
Faizal Mitha

Faizal Mitha

Chief Sales and Innovation Officer, Canada at Hub International

Matt Lievers

Matt Lievers

President of Ontario Employee Benefits and Retirement at Hub International

As the workplace shifts to virtual, employers need to rethink their benefits strategy.

The pandemic has caused a seismic shift in the way people work — and employees seem to like it that way. According to a recent survey by FlexJobs, 96 percent of the employee respondents reported that they wanted to continue working remotely or to have remote work options. This has many implications for employee compensation and benefits.

In the Canadian landscape, employee benefits programs typically comprise supplemental health and dental coverage, different lines of insurance, and pension plans. “These benefits are important because they’re directly related to supporting employee health and well-being,” says Faizal Mitha, Chief Sales and Innovation Officer, Canada, at HUB International, a leading North American insurance brokerage.

But in this new normal, with constantly-changing employee needs and expectations, a traditional one-size-fits-all approach to total rewards is no longer feasible. Employers now find themselves having to rethink how they frame and deliver compensation and benefits.

Flexible, customizable, and personalized — how does the employer choose?

Choosing the right benefits package can be an overwhelming decision in an environment where plan designs are becoming more flexible, customizable, and personalized. Today’s total rewards plans might include perks and rewards, additional mental health support, lifestyle spending accounts, education and training, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and home office support.

Even within the realm of health care benefits — a traditional benefits plan component — the options are broadening with the emergence of virtual care and digital therapeutics. “Both insurers and employers are starting to think about how to apply these emerging services to employees regardless of where they live,” says Matt Lievers, President of Ontario Employee Benefits and Retirement at HUB International.

Another trend is the emergence of the persona, as employers seek to understand the values and needs of multiple demographics in the workplace. This has resulted in benefits and rewards plans designed to meet employees where they are — for example, student debt repayment programs for younger workers and retirement planning advice for baby boomers.

How does the employer navigate through all these options, select the right mix of benefits, and translate the value of those benefits to their employees?

Identifying and communicating meaningful benefits to employees is key

HUB International helps employers design and deliver meaningful benefits plans by focusing on two fundamentals — data and communication.

Data can be used to segment various employee populations and demographics to gain a rich understanding of individual employees. “In the past, data has been used more as a trend analysis tool, but today we’re becoming more skilled in stitching these data sets together to learn about the different employee personas and how they interact with their benefits plans,” says Lievers. “These learnings can then be translated into actionable change in the employer’s plan design, creating more meaningful benefits for the employee.”

Within HUB’s two specialty areas of drug plan management and absence management solutions, data plays a key role in advising employers on aligned solutions that are centered around the employee but within budget constraints. “Being able to use artificial intelligence to help our clients make the best decisions rather than relying on just anecdotal feedback is key,” says Mitha.

With employers spending an average of three to five percent of payroll on benefits, return on investment (ROI) is an important consideration. Here’s where communication comes into play. “A lot of times the ROI comes through in how well your employees understand and engage with the plan,” says Mitha. “If engagement is really low, it can be mainly because employees simply don’t understand what they’re getting, so it’s important to spend a lot of time on communication.”

Is your benefits plan doing its job? Complete a two-minute online survey and receive your customized benchmarking report within 60 seconds, compliments of HUB.

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