Published by Riaan van Wyk on
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
One of the more interesting HR observations over the last few years is that benefit strategies, or any internal business strategies for that matter, work best when they are structured to form part of the ‘whole’. The ‘whole’ meaning - when they’re aligned with an overall strategy, rather than functioning in their own vacuums or as standalone entities.
So too, it is important to ensure that your financial wellbeing and broader health benefit strategies are aligned. Getting this right will ensure the benefits provided under these strategies are linked so that they positively affect one another and can complement each other in achieving greater levels of overall employee wellbeing.
Ideally, you’d want to be able to measure not only the success of a benefit (e.g. its return on investment) but also the impact of this success on that of other benefits.
The effectiveness of health benefits will increase in an environment with healthy levels of financial wellbeing
We know that problems with health and particularly mental health are often, (not always of course), present as a consequence of financial problems. In cases like these, it is a symptom rather than the root cause of a problem. In practice, these issues are already linked. It should therefore be an important aim when formalising any wellbeing strategy, to link different types of benefits in terms of delivery too. The effectiveness of health benefits will increase in an environment with healthy levels of financial wellbeing, where root problems are addressed.
In today’s complicated talent management environment, an organisation cannot afford to offer a suite of employee benefits only as a tick-box exercise. Offering product for product’s sake is an incredibly easy trap to fall into and in many instances HR decision makers might eventually become disillusioned and even lose faith in the validity of wellbeing solutions altogether. Not to mention the potential damage to your organisation’s bottom line by having to absorb the cost of failed interventions.
The correct approach, from the outset, is to ensure you establish the objectives you as an organisation want to achieve through the benefits that you offer. These objectives should in turn be aligned with your overall business strategy. By doing this, a strategic framework should be set within which both your financial wellbeing and health benefits can be delivered.
This framework should very clearly define the following:
Over what time periods will you be measuring the success of your financial wellbeing and health interventions? Are these time periods practical and of sufficient length to provide reasonable indicators?
Are your strategies flexible enough in order to allow tweaks and adjustments? Should you find that the benefits you offer no longer address the needs of your employees, or are no longer aligned with those in related strategies, will it be easy and cost effective to adjust your strategy?
Ensure you have a well-defined and practical way of measuring the return on investment of any interventions you offer your employees. Combined with this should be the measurement of the impact of one intervention on another. For example, does a big take-up and engagement with a particular financial wellbeing product result in the use (or less use of) a particular health benefit? How does this impact on the overall success of your strategy, both in terms of return on investment and the increase in wellbeing of your employees?
You should be able to gather employee data and opinion in an effective manner, to be representative of the whole workforce. This data should be accessible and analytical processes and tools should be in place in order to interpret the data so that benefit strategies can be aligned with the true needs of employees.
Finally, your engagement strategy should deliver targeted communication to your workforce, in line with your wellbeing strategy and linking different cohorts of employees with the most appropriate set of benefits.