Only three quarters of the way through, and 2016 has already been a landmark year. We’ve won some incredible clients and been honoured with a number of prestigious industry awards. 

One consistent highlight in our calendars though, is HR Tech. And this year has been no exception. The conference, which took place last week in Chicago, brings together the great and the good of the HR industry, revealing market preoccupations, priorities and trends.   

This year there were a number of dominant areas of technology focus especially around engagement, wellbeing and analytics platforms and solutions.

But market trends don’t just materialise during one week of the year. Over the past 12 months we’ve been keeping more than one eye on the industry and collating our third Global Employee Benefits Watch. Below I explore three key trends that this has exposed.  

The shift to global strategy 

We’re seeing an increasing number of multinationals transition towards global benefits management. Technology is a key enabler in this, helping organisations control costs, manage risks, reduce administration and engage employees in their schemes. While 14% of multinationals are already using global benefits management software, 53% would prefer to take this approach – and it’s not hard to see why.

Our Global Employee Benefits Watch 2016/17 research reveals a clear link between global strategy maturity and success in meeting benefits objectives. Organisations that have had a global benefits strategy in pace for three years or more are out-performing their peers by 16% in global employee engagement scores. They are also 20% more confident in managing costs and risk, through process improvement and the availability of data. 

Technology engaging (or disengaging) employees

Delivering benefits via a consumer-grade technology is no longer optional for organisations. It’s a critical factor in employees’ perceptions of their benefits schemes, and whether they engage with them or not. When employees are very satisfied with the technology delivering their benefits, they are almost twice as likely to view these as innovative or unique (93.8% vs. 46.6%). Early benefits technology adopters are already reaping rewards in this area, showing a higher employee engagement score (83%) than the average for all organisations (66%). 

Technology also underpins benefits communications, another influential factor in how employees view their schemes. Findings from our survey indicate that employee engagement levels rise in line with an increase in the range of communication tools and techniques used (such as emails, mobile applications and face-to-face meetings). Using visually appealing, intuitive technology and best practice communications makes employees more aware of the benefits available to them, and subsequently more engaged in their organisations.

Emphasis on cost analysis and benefits analytics 

Global employers spend a significant amount on benefits, on average 31% of employee salary, yet difficulty reporting on global reward costs is the third biggest benefits challenge selected by employers. Only 15% of employers strongly agree that they have accurate data on global total
benefits costs. This clearly shows that the majority of organisations do not know, or don’t trust, where their benefits spend is going, but are managing to continually secure large budget shares without demonstrating any ROI. With increasing pressure on HR teams to demonstrate this return, we envisage that this way of operating will not continue for much longer.

And thanks to advancements in benefits analytics, there’s no reason why it should. Analytics offers global HR and reward professionals a means of understanding the cost, impact and effectiveness of their benefits packages and programmes in different countries. It also enables professionals to actively manage their schemes, improve them and predict how they may need to change in future. 

If there is one strand tying the above observations together, it is technology. Thanks to the evolution of this, employers now have the tools at their fingertips to transform their global benefits programmes, move away from offering standard corporate packages to personalised benefits that reach their employees via the best communication channels and at the right time. The result?  Employees that are engaged and motivated for better business outcomes. 

To access Global Employee Benefits Watch 2016/17 in full, please click here