Companies have rushed out to provide a slew of perks and benefits to employees in the name of attracting talent, retaining those oh-so-fickle Millennials (and beyond), and increasing satisfaction among employees. LaCroix filled fridges, endless coffee, ping pong tables, flexible working days, and TGIF with free beer on Fridays to kick off the weekend are just a few of the work perks adorning offices today. The list goes on and on as employers engage in an arms race to have the best benefits, but once integrated into the workplace, the line of questioning around performance, utilization, and actual impact can fall by the wayside. Or worse, it never really existed in the first place. This not only compromises the employer’s ability to assess a benefit’s effectiveness, but it stifles and mutes the needed channels to allow employees to voice their feedback, thoughts, and concerns.
In order to mitigate this risk when evaluating new and existing benefits, employers should be asking the tough questions to providers to gauge whether they can answer the crucial question of accountability: is this benefit providing a measuring and reporting mechanism that allows the employer to assess its intended impact?
Not all perks can or should come with a measuring system-just imagine trying to show the increased socialization or happiness impact on your employees-however, far too many benefit providers do not provide anything to help employers understand how the benefit is impacting both the individual employee and the organization at large.
In thinking about increasing this ability to report on impact, one significant inroad is to ask whether or not the benefit is designed to hold itself accountable. Benefit providers who have internal mechanisms for measurement and are willing to report their performance, utilization, and impact to their clients (the employer) are best in class. They are both concerned with delivering a high-performing benefit and are using data analytics-both quantitative and qualitative-to drive product improvement, adoption, and employee outcomes.
Most times, the metaphorical buck stops once the company adopts the benefit and the employer is left to build and deploy any type of evaluation among employees. This isn’t inherently bad, especially if the voice of the employee can be captured accurately and easily. Simply surveying employees about whether they prefer having LaCroix or Perrier should do the trick. Tracking the attendance during a Friday TGIF happy hour gives valuable insight. However, for more complex perks, such as financial health and wellness benefits, the burden of showing positive impact for employees and employers should be on the provider themselves.
Providing an internal metrics and assessment mechanism that inherently captures an employee’s feedback, concerns, and ultimately the outcomes they experience gives employees a voice and allows them to be a more active and engaged participant in the organization. This is critical as a truly effective work perk can and should deliver value to both employees and their employers.
Recognizing that employers want to genuinely provide their employees with something they value, we have built an initial “financial health audit” that we use to survey employees to see whether or not they would value a financial wellness benefit. This simple tool is an example of what benefit providers can develop that gives employees a voice and empowers them to advocate for their own needs. As employers collect this type of data both before deploying a benefit and through its lifecycle once adopted, they are able to make more informed decisions in evaluating whether the benefit is appropriate and useful for their organization.
Once adopted, we continue to track our quantitative impact in order to continue to advance the employee’s financial health and security. It also holds us accountable to our own performance all while delivering impact and ROI data to the employer. This triple alignment between the employee, the employer, and our benefit allows for a virtuous cycle of feedback. The employee gets results (improved financial health, reduced financial stress, and increased levels of job productivity), the employer gets ROI (less absenteeism, more engagement while at work, reduced turnover), and we are able to improve and refine our impact model and deliver an increasingly powerful perk that holds itself accountable to employees and employers.
Whether adopting a financial health program, a physical or emotional wellness solution, or any number of other perks, accountability to results should be a staple in assessing a benefit’s viability at every step of the way. Benefits without accountability mechanisms can be appropriate in some cases, but the ones that demonstrate impact should be held up as examples as they are willing to demonstrate that they empower employee voices directly and are willing to subject themselves to a higher degree of accountability.