One of the biggest differences between today’s industry leaders and the trailing pack is their willingness to ask employees what they really want.
It might sound like common sense but your approach to employee benefits should be influenced by the people intended to make the most of it.
This can be easier said than done, especially if your staff feel reluctant to criticise the lack of certain provisions or processes. That’s why it’s so important to ensure people feel encouraged to voice their opinions whenever they need to.
Earlier this year, I was a part of a panel on the topic of employee feedback within your benefits strategy at our 2022 Reward Gateway Summit, and it’s something that I feel very passionately about as we’ve tried to find new ways to support our employees, particularly as new challenges such as cost of living pressures are blaring in the news feed.
Direct feedback doesn’t just help improve your Employee Value Proposition, it promotes open and honest, two-way communication as a core part of your culture. Here are a few ways in which encouraging feedback can aid your benefits strategy and business as a whole:
It encourages people to speak up
All too often people are worried to voice their opinion at work for fear of being too critical or showing themselves in a bad light in the eyes of their employer. Top companies realise that encouraging staff to speak up is key for a healthy working culture because it shows a level of trust between people and their employer.
Here’s a good example we recently implemented at Reward Gateway. Following some of the tragic incidents that have occurred in London over the past 12 months including the death of Sarah Everard, many people voiced concerns about feeling uncomfortable with the idea of walking home, particularly during the dark winter months. To combat this, our ‘Safely Home’ benefit ensures that anybody who feels unsafe, wherever they are, will be able to get a taxi home at the company’s expense. Hopefully nobody feels the need to use this benefit, though it still has a positive impact on wellbeing because everyone is aware it’s there if they need it.
It helps create an internal community
You know you’ve struck gold with your employee benefits package when you’ve managed to create a network of champions across your workforce. These are the people that naturally help shed light on initiatives and spark engagement among their colleagues.
Companies should be making the most of their champions by providing them with topics of discussion to take back to their teams. It’s often surprising what comes back from these sessions and how much it helps to direct your approach to employee benefits.
Speaking at a Reward Gateway panel, Faye Mclean, People Director at Eve Sleep revealed how its decision to allow staff to rearrange their allotted holidays at different points in the year came from one such session. As you’d expect, it has proven to be a huge success with a lot of uptake because the people themselves requested it.
It opens up debate
Opening up an employee forum is a great way to spark debate and find ways to tweak and improve certain aspects of your benefits offering. This helps to build trust between employees and their organisation by demonstrating that staff opinions matter – and they have a sway on whether things need to evolve or not.
Your forum should be a safe space to discuss ideas in order to determine what’s working well, and what isn’t.
If you’re a larger organisation then you can also designate forum reps for different sectors to make sure that every area across your business is covered.
While I wouldn’t call this ‘controversial,’ one way we’ve used employee feedback to expand on our benefits offering is to offer podcasts and audiobooks to one of our most popular benefits, where our employees receive unlimited free professional development books and one fiction book per month (introduced during the pandemic). This request came directly from our Engineering Team, as this is their preferred method of digesting information so the current benefit wasn’t as helpful to them.
Combining this with targeted employee surveys is a great way to dig further into what employees are thinking and whether they see any easy opportunities for improvement. Ultimately, the more information you can gather from people, the more ammo you have to tailor your approach to their needs.
Last, but certainly not least, I have one final tip: If you have a focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in your organisation, it can be helpful to include your network leaders in a final benefits review. They may have suggestions for language or promotion that you hadn’t thought of yet to ensure that all demographics are considered when launching or changing a benefit.
If you're interested in learning more about how our employee benefits program can support your business goals, get in touch with us and a member of our team will walk you through our solutions.