A guide to ‘read-only’ benefits14.12.22
Unlike flexible benefits which are transactional and enable employees to make selections based on their preferences, read-only (also referred to as ‘content-only’ or ‘information-only’) benefits including informational pages on a benefits platform, sometimes with links to services or interactive apps.
Global Benefits Director
An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a good example of a read-only benefit. Unlike protection benefits where employees may want to review or adjust their level of cover, an EAP is usually available all employees in a standard way. It’s a fixed benefit with no selection criteria, so a read-only benefits page can effectively describe what’s available and direct people to access the service.
Globally we are seeing a move towards increased choice and flexibility to meet employee demands and expectations as highlighted in our Global Expectations report, but fully flexible benefits don’t always work for all the countries in which an organisation would like to have a benefits offering. That’s where the advantages of read-only benefits lie because you can…
- Show the value of all the benefits you are offering to employees – even if these are fixed, a read-only site will give them a big picture view. Employees often under-value their total package and can be unaware of what benefits they have access to.
- Deliver a better employee experience by giving employees a single consolidated home to understand their benefits. People’s experiences of consumer technology like Amazon and Netflix are driving increased expectations of workplace technology. Indeed, 86% of employees say they would like to be able to access the benefits, content, and resources that they get from their employer in one place.
- Signpost employees to resources that are relevant to their benefits, or information that can help them get the most from their benefits and further support their needs.
When should you opt for a read-only benefits site?
The right benefits solution for an organisation should be based on the key challenges they are facing and the objectives of their benefits strategy. There are three common scenarios where we’d recommend the use of read-only benefits:
1. Where there is less flexibility
Although there is a trend towards global organisations offering more flexible benefits – the benefits available in different countries varies significantly. In countries like the US and UK, there’s now a wide range of flexible benefits options and choices – such as childcare schemes, additional days holiday buy, wellbeing or leisure allowances, restaurant discounts, massage therapy, private medical insurance and more.
However, this increased flexibility is not going to happen overnight in all regions. Many countries around the world will continue to have limited benefits and flexibility for some time and we anticipate that choice instead will be provided by allowances and part-funded benefits. These may be supplemental also to countries with strong social and often mandated benefits such as CPF (the Central Provident Fund) in Singapore or mandatory health cover in Germany. Therefore, the information that employees need to be able to understand their benefits doesn’t always need to be complicated – enter read-only benefits.
2. Serving locations with a smaller headcount
For organisations that have a global workforce and want to provide a consistent employee experience regardless of location, a global benefits platform is the answer. In some countries with a high headcount, a complex site is needed to be able to offer more benefits flexibility and differentiate your EVP from competitors. However, there will be other countries with smaller headcounts where the cost of a more complex site could be prohibitive.
Those employees still need an excellent experience and will be sending enquiries into your team, so it makes sense to provide them with a read-only version of your global benefits platform to help them find answers to their questions, and as a place to go for signposting, information and resources.
3. As a starting point for your benefits strategy
Frequently we see a read-only benefits site as a starting point that’s quicker and easier to implement. Sometimes as stage two of the programme – which may be only a year or two after the initial launch – some customers review their benefits needs and move towards a more complex offering and build on the foundations that are already there. Others look to change when headcounts grow or there is an increased need due to administrational updates, an acquisition, or when new benefits are identified following a market review (this involves reviewing what other organisations are offering and pinpointing any gaps).
Transform the employee experience
In almost every example we have seen with customers pre-platform launch, benefits information is scattered between intranet sites, handbooks, local knowledge and sometimes known only to the HR team. It’s unsurprising then that only 32% of employees rate their experiences of work-related technology as excellent.
For global organisations looking to provide a consistent experience across regions, read-only benefits sites provide access to the same experience when it comes to the technology they experience – even if the level of benefits flexibility differs. Regardless of complexity level, a benefits platform enables you to show the value of everything you do for employees, provide a great user experience and signpost them to take relevant actions.
As Matthew Webb, Global Head of Benefits and Global Mobility at LSEG, highlights in a recent customer story, “depending on the actual benefits in a particular country, it will be a fully transactional platform – as in the UK. But in many other countries where there isn’t the choice and flexibility for employees to make decisions and action options, it’s more of a content-only site. But it’s important to have a consistent look and feel from a benefits platform perspective, which is why we’re following this strategy.”
Whilst employees may not have the choice to pick flexible benefits and add dependants on a read-only benefits site, there will still be reduced administration with automated reports including leavers and joiners, whose information will be shared direct to providers. As well as a time saving, these eliminate the risk of error and inaccuracy.
Information pages can be updated on a regular basis to keep your employees coming back to the platform. Adding further FAQ answers based on common queries employees have will help reduce the number of future tickets and ensure read-only pages are as useful as possible for employees. If you have any questions or would like to speak to one of our experts, please contact us here.
Paul joined Benefex from Mercer in 2019 with a wealth of international benefits experience, having worked with a large number of high-profile, multinational clients to review their approach to global talent and reward. He leads Benefex’s global benefits delivery team and he’s doing an excellent job of it, if we may say so ourselves. He is skilled in international risk assessment and management, legislative compliance, trend research, cross-border claims, and customer relationship management. AND, he can speak fluent French, mais oui!