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A Dashing Solution

How Dashboards Drive Utilization of Benefits and Services

Never before has there been so many human resource benefits and services for employees. Whether health insurance, employee assistance programs (EAPs), 401(k) plans or wellness programs, employers are using benefits and services as a strategy to enhance recruiting, employee retention and cultural engagement. Likewise, employees are actively seeking out employers with robust benefits packages and, as the competition for talent heats up, employees will likely see the number of benefits and services continue to grow.

While employers strive to curate the perfect benefits package for their employees, the sheer number of available benefits has brought a new level of complexity to employee communications. For example, employers may engage one provider for their wellness program and another for their EAP. This typically requires the two programs to be located within completely disparate platforms, requiring employees to remember not one, but two logins and locations, in addition to all of the functions each platform offers.

This represents a perfect example of user friction through poor benefits access design. Separating benefits into various silos for employees does not encourage utilization, but rather discourages it. This also prevents employers from getting the best return on investment from their benefits purchase, and subsequently keeps employees from realizing the full value of their employment and compensation.

Many of these challenges are attributable not to an employer’s HR systems and personnel themselves, but rather due to the fast pace of technological changes and lack of platform integration and collaboration among vendors. Indeed, many of these same problems occur across a range of industries from financial services to health care: siloed platforms creating user friction that limits utilization and engagement.

Centralizing Employee Benefits

There is a new approach to the management of benefits and services that prioritizes employee access and utilization: HR portals and dashboards as part of a company-branded app. In the past, technology providers often focused on keeping competitors out of their platform, but new HR dashboards are providing employers with a greater degree of flexibility, openness and integration.

In essence, an HR dashboard centralizes benefits and services within one location for employees (and often, their families) to access quickly and easily. These dashboards create a single point of access for all of an employer’s benefits, offering single sign-on (SSO) functionality to allow employees unfettered access to every aspect of their benefits and services, regardless of provider.

Consider wellness programs as an example. Employers have struggled for decades to engage employees with their health and well-being, even after investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases. One reason for this underutilization is the lack of centralization within the organization for employees to find these programs, much less have a reason to use them on a regular basis. All too often, employees have to jump from platform to platform in order to access team challenges and/or earn wellness rewards, all while participating in chronic disease management programs on a different platform or accessing their family health records on yet another.

By centralizing these services within an HR dashboard, employees can open a mobile app on their phone or visit a website via any computer or tablet using an internet browser and easily access every aspect of the wellness program. Even if employers use a different service provider for chronic disease management, with SSO, they can easily integrate the service within their own HR dashboard.

Some employers are even leveraging HR dashboards to go beyond benefits-related efforts to create a one-stop shop for all things HR. Moving seamlessly from tab to tab or tile to tile, an employee can easily access everything from employee handbooks, job boards, news and announcements, all the way down to their check stubs, 401(k) plan and total compensation information.

Execution, Education and Engagement

Execution

As most employers know, minute details matter most when it comes to implementing technology. It is never enough to deploy a new technology, benefit or service and simply ask employees to use it. Employers must instead create an action plan for how they will drive employee engagement to ensure staff are leveraging its benefits to their full potential.

Culturally, these efforts should be led with a top-down approach. Executive management and leadership should actively promote the benefits of the dashboard, while using it themselves. This approach should extend through line or store managers as well. However, as with many initiatives within a workplace, when there is a lack of accountability and transparency, important objectives fall to the wayside.

Education

Proper education is a focal point of benefits programs. In many cases, employees are simply unaware of the variety of services available to them — largely because they are held within an antiquated employee handbook sitting at the bottom of their desk or buried behind a firewall within a portal that no one can find. While the centralization of benefits and services within a dashboard will help them find the information, employers should take that further and craft communications and engaging content that helps ensure employees are aware of all the benefits available to them, as well as their various functions.

Proper education is a focal point of benefits programs. In many cases, employees are simply unaware of the variety of services available to them — largely because they are held within an antiquated employee handbook sitting at the bottom of their desk or buried behind a firewall within a portal that no one can find. While the centralization of benefits and services within a dashboard will help them find the information, employers should take that further and craft communications and engaging content that helps ensure employees are aware of all the benefits available to them, as well as their various functions.

Some employers are even leveraging HR dashboards to go beyond benefits-related efforts to create a one-stop-shop for all things HR: handbooks, job boards, news and announcements, all the way down to their check stubs, 401(k) plan and total compensation information.

Engagement

Consider the platform’s format and location, particularly within a multi-generational workforce. Our industry has learned that each generation has its own technological preference, not to mention the preferences unique to individual staff. Younger employees typically will engage with their HR services and benefits through an app on their smartphone. More experienced employees may prefer a web-based dashboard accessible via their desktop computer or even move between both the app and web portal. Neither approach is better or more effective than the other, but access to both provides an additional level of flexibility for HR to engage every staff member, regardless of demographics.

Of course, to ensure employees are fully engaging with the platform, the dashboard should function as an extension of the employer’s brand and culture. The employer’s logo should be featured throughout, as well as their company colors. This will keep the employer top-of-mind whenever employees access the platform and use its services, which has the added benefit of fostering a strong corporate identity.

All in the Family

Providing employees’ families access to their benefits and services via a dashboard also serves as a powerful tool to drive engagement with the company’s culture and brand. This is particularly true when it comes to health, wellness and financial services: Often, it isn’t the employee who adds to higher health-care spending, but rather the employee’s family members. If those individuals quickly and easily access health and wellness services, they will be more likely to learn about their options and utilize appropriate services, resulting in better health outcomes to lower overall employer — and individual — health-care costs.

Consider the example of wellness programs from earlier. If an employee’s family members have access to additional resources, such as chronic condition management programs and health coaches, they will be better equipped to manage their entire family’s medical needs. Rather than the support going to one person, each family member can engage with the resources provided and make smart choices to use the right service at the right time — while also making meaningful behavioral changes to live healthier lives.

Not only would the employer benefit from reduced health-care spending, but if an entire family is using their benefits and services, it incentivizes the employee to place more value in their benefits than if it was solely for themselves. Once the family is involved, it becomes significantly less likely for them to seek opportunities elsewhere, which supports employee retention.

Using Green Circle Life’s HR dashboard, for example, employees can invite four family members to access the dashboard through their own mobile app. These users will be able to access the services that are relevant to them and will have the same overall functionality as the employees themselves, including access to remote monitoring services, health coaches and the employer’s wellness program. This engages the full family with the employer’s culture and mission.

HR dashboards help employers not only maximize their benefits investments, but also create a more positive and satisfied workforce, one that enhances recruitment, retention, cost management and overall employee engagement. In addition, employees will soon begin to expect such technology and personalization when it comes to their benefits. It is a natural evolution for HR considering the rapid pace of technological change and consumer demands. Employers that take steps now to stay ahead of the curve will better compete against those who linger behind.

Dinesh Sheth Dinesh Sheth is founder and CEO of Green Circle Life. For more information, follow Green Circle Life on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


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