How to upgrade your talent strategy with strong benefits

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Experts from Redbull, Driscoll’s, and Collective Health weigh in on benefits strategies that are driving talent management plans for 2022 as the pandemic endures.

On Thursday, December 2, Collective Health hosted a webinar with Employee Benefit News (EBN) that discussed the importance of employee experience amidst the so-called “Great Resignation”. For those of you who couldn’t make it, we’ve curated the key trends and highlights that are shaping 2022 benefits strategies according to HR and benefits leaders:

Amid fierce competition to hire and retain talent as we approach the new year, these industry experts discussed many of the unique challenges set forth by the “Great Resignation” and shared ways to distinguish your brand and set your company apart.

In this 60-min webinar, we explored how employee benefits are shaping talent management strategies and revealed key insights for benefits leaders in the run up to 2022, including:

The employee benefits experience and your talent strategy

Increasingly HR leaders are turning to health benefits to help recruit and retain talent. As we enter the third year of the pandemic, the workplace changes induced by COVID-19 seem to be sticking, putting digital-first solutions at the forefront of staffing and HR strategies.

“We’re focusing heavily on a more robust and holistic wellbeing program—not just their physical health, but their emotional and their financial health as well—making sure that they have the tools that they need to navigate through this time.”

—Abby Glines,
Director of Total Rewards,
Driscoll’s

Broader programs that include targeted solutions for general wellbeing, mental health, care-givers, fertility, as well as telehealth and other digital health technologies, are becoming fixtures for companies competing for top talent.

Interestingly, one of the biggest transformations is happening behind the scenes, and it has nothing to do with the health benefits companies offer. Rather, it’s about the quality of service expected by employees in the digital age.

“Our goal is to give our employees the same premium experience with their benefits that we feel that we give to consumers with our product. And so we are always looking at technology-forward program partners that really focus on UI, that really focus on easy navigation.”

—Sara Richards,
Director of Benefits
Red Bull

Dubbed the “member experience”, this term has come to encapsulate the usability of the interface (UI)—sometimes known as “portal”— through which health benefits are administered and the quality of the experience that goes with it. At Collective Health, we’ve put the member experience first with:

  • one cohesive platform, My Collective, that unites all your health benefits, claims, customer service, and care navigation.
  • a benefits ecosystem, which includes virtual health options, point solutions, and Collective Health’s Premier Partner Program, helping employees to find the services they need, when they need them.

Through the My Collective app and online interface, members can find the right providers and care, understand their coverage, access plan details, and connect with a Member Advocate when they need human help.

How to build a successful, holistic benefits experience

Flexibility. Choice. Personalization. These are the three principles underpinning the pivot towards strong, digital-first health benefits strategies. Leaders in this field want to offer employees support that meets employees where they are.

“We absolutely believe that the best care is not always through the medical network. That oftentimes, it’s the program partners that specialize in a specific area where you will get better outcomes, you will get better experiences, and you will get better help for your members.”

—Sara Richards,
Director of Benefits
Red Bull

One of the biggest challenges now is figuring out how to evaluate the quality of services available, especially when it comes to health technologies. It can be particularly hard to assess the health claims of digital health solutions, even with formal medical training or a strong scientific background. That’s where Collective Health can help.

“We have a very flexible partner ecosystem with over a hundred different partners across traditional networks and providers, and then some of the most well-known that own digital and specialized health solutions.”

—Jen Jacobs
SVP of Member Services
Collective Health

At Collective Health, our in-house experts do the heavy lifting for our clients with the Premier Partner Program, where only those digital health solutions that have demonstrable impact across the most sought-after clinical categories make the cut.

What to consider when supporting employees

Now, more than ever, the needs and expectations of employees are taking front and center stage. This shift has positioned benefits leaders, brokers, and consultants as key advocates for their interests as companies adjust to the new demands of the job market.

“From our perspective, it feels like the relationship and the conversation between employees and their employers has really shifted. We’re dealing with a more empowered employee who has worked under incredible circumstances for the past almost two years, and they know what they need now more clearly. And they’re going to ask for it.”

—Stephanie Schomer
Editor in Chief
Employee Benefit News

Perhaps one of the toughest challenges to date is making sense of the changes that occurred in the workplace during these unprecedented times. Leaders in the health benefits industry now have to unpick the tangle of urgent decisions in response to pandemic-related public health measures that affected the workplace and determine which ones deserve to stay.

“I think employees are now expecting a lot more than they have in the past, and they’re in a position to do that, which is important. And we have to evolve to meet them where they are and flexible work is going to be at the forefront.”

—Abby Glines,
Director of Total Rewards,
Driscoll’s

Some major players, like Apple are working towards hybrid work solutions, while others have made the bold decision to go fully-remote, like Twitter. And herein lies the rub: there’s no cut-and-dry answer to this conundrum. What we do know is that, no matter the workplace—office-based, hybrid, or fully remote—the health benefits plan should match the needs of your workforce.

A new focus on family building

As the pandemic raged on, people took shelter at home, juggling work obligations, household management, and parenting duties, while managing the psychological strain of social distancing amid an economic downturn.

“The differentiator is going to be companies who see the whole person, and not just see them as an employee. And I think that’s something that Driscoll’s has done well, with really recognizing all of the important aspects of life and not just that you’re coming to work every day.”

—Abby Glines,
Director of Total Rewards,
Driscoll’s

The pandemic took a particularly heavy toll on women in the workforce. Now, forward-thinking companies are seeking to bridge the gap with innovative benefits, covering everything from fertility to care-giving and parental bonding.

“We had a program partner that was really there for the planning through to pregnancy. And what we heard from our ERGs over the last two years was especially—again, now that lives are all together, you’re all in the house together—they needed more parenting support. They needed more help, even the families where this was their second kid.”

—Sara Richards,
Director of Benefits
Red Bull

At Collective Health, we work with some of the most innovative fertility and family building providers to tailor benefits programs that match our clients’ workforce, including Carrot Fertility and Progyny.

Strategies to engage and educate your employees

For health benefits to add an edge to corporate recruitment and retention programs, there are also a few other considerations to take into account, starting with employee awareness and education, as well as trust.

When curating great features and options for health benefits programs, it’s important to consider how to disseminate information about these services to staff. As Abby Glines, from Driscoll’s points out, this groundwork lays the foundations of trust between employees, their benefits team, and the health benefits administrator.

“For me, it’s ensuring that we get more awareness and education to our employees and communicate with them on all of the great tools we have available to them.”

—Abby Glines,
Director of Total Rewards,
Driscoll’s

At Redbull, the benefits team approached it with gamification in mind. To raise awareness and improve engagement, they created a digital “game” to help employees navigate their health benefits at each stage of life.

“We just revamped our intranet to try and make it easier to navigate and more fun. We created like a game. Literally, you click on what is the event you’re going through, “Hey, I’ve got kids going to college.” Cool. Here are the benefits that might be of interest to you. Or, “Hey, I just got sick”. Okay. Here are the things you might want to be aware of.”

—Sara Richards,
Director of Benefits
Red Bull

And finally, it’s important not to forget the value of person-to-person interaction, which after two years of remote working and social distancing, is easily forgotten. At Collective Health, we work with our clients to meet employees, explain their benefits, and introduce them to the My Collective app and interface, which consolidates the complexity and helps clear up confusion around navigating or understanding benefits, so employees can focus on what matters most — their health.

“But I think the other thing that we’ve done is really getting out onsite and getting out to these locations. And so we’ve brought some of our partners with us. Collective Health, for example, has been great in the sense that we have seasonal kickoff. When our season starts, [..] we actually have our benefits team and we’ve had members from Collective Health actually go out there to meet with our employees.”

—Abby Glines,
Director of Total Rewards,
Driscoll’s

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