Launching global benefits technology in APAC16.03.21
Global Benefits Director
Start with employee experience
When looking at any new technology or initiative or process, the key thing I always consider is our employees’ experience. We saw that mobility around the APAC region was common, but the experience of these employees differed from country to country. Our people had sometimes found it difficult to learn about their benefits or even access the relevant details of benefits vendors when moving to another territory, so we wanted – as far as possible – to standardise our benefits solution across the APAC region. Accessibility is key here; when looking at our technology, we made sure SSO was in place wherever possible, and that all benefits content was well-signposted so employees could find all the relevant information quickly and easily.
Aligning benefits technology with employee expectations
In the years that I’ve been working in total reward, I’ve definitely seen a transformation in what employees expect from their tech. It used to be that benefits could be surfaced on a simple intranet site; now it needs to be mobile, and the look and feel is essential. The more people have become used to seamless tech, the more important it’s been to make sure we reduce the barriers or number of clicks it takes to access information. We needed a solution that was polished and focused on the employees' experience.
Tackling admin challenges
Developing the benefits offering itself is essential in maintaining engagement, but as the scheme grows, the number of vendors and amount of reporting always increases. It would be ideal if one report satisfied all vendors, but in reality, each provider uses their own preferred frequency, formatting, file type etc. We knew this was creating heavy burden on our HR support team. So, we needed a solution that would still improve the front-end employee experience, but would simplify the back-end for admins as well.
Why Australia first?
In Australia, benefits technology is still quite new for the market, but is emerging at pace. Here, we already had streamlined processes in place (although they were time-consuming), we knew the vendors, the frequency of reporting etc., which meant we had a good understanding of what worked and where the greatest opportunities might exist within OneHub. Plus, the benefits themselves were mature; we already had the information we needed, and working with Benefex we could quickly begin to imagine how we wanted to build the experience for employees. Benefex were able to work with the benefit vendors to understand their needs and ensure that we eliminated manual processes and maximised the opportunities from automation.
The big challenge: Superannuation
Our biggest pain point in Australia (with or without a platform) is superannuation. There are two parts to this; the comprehensive and legislature-driven reporting guidelines, and the employee input side. The employee needs to perform certain actions like selecting their level of salary sacrifice and picking which fund they want to participate in. This is often still paper-driven, as it’s incredibly difficult to set up that reporting digitally – even in cases where that’s working, there are always exceptions and complications.
There are over 100 funds that an employee can select, as well as the employer fund and a private fund. Quite often there are codes to input, various fund names and different details required depending on your level of contribution and fund choice. These can be hard to understand, especially for people who don’t come across it often, which can obviously cause employees to have a negative experience. So, we thought about how we could improve the employee journey from the start. After analysing the retirement fund of 1,500 employees, we simplified the selection process with simple dropdown options for employees to select. It’s helped avoid common errors like typos and misunderstandings, and reduced the number of queries coming through to the HR support team.
Getting employees on board with the tech
Looking back, the employees wanted a technological solution. Getting them used to it does require a change of behaviour; historically, our intranet site and our internal knowledge base had been the two key areas for finding benefits information.
We created a lot of buzz around our new platform launch, which naturally led our employees to search the new site, but to help affirm this, we simultaneously retired the intranet site; it became a single page that pointed people to the platform. Then, we streamlined the internal knowledge database. It still had the high-level overview of superannuation, but it directed employees to the new platform. We just took every opportunity to nudge employees towards the new platform and gradually change that behaviour.
With the platform launch, we found another big change was in how employees raised tickets. We had been using the internal knowledge database for this, but as we launched the platform, employees found that the answers to their questions were built into the benefits pages. They immediately became used to the self-serve aspect of the platform, and were checking FAQs before raising tickets. We saw a great reduction in the number of cases being raised as our employees were empowered to help themselves.
With a lot of mobility between APAC territories, we wanted to ensure there was a sense of consistency to our benefits branding, to create familiarity when travelling between countries. The look and feel of the platforms were standardised, but with tweaks according to local flavour. But my favourite way we brought this to life was through our benefits brochure. It was intended to just be accessible through the benefits platform to get information on the offering, but the document has found many more uses! It’s great for recruitment, and it’s helped employees who have moved between territories to get quick access to key information such as understanding their health insurance. Because it was designed to encourage benefits take-up, the information is easily digestible and engaging, which has been a great hit with our people!
We’d said at the outset that our key metric would be the number of cases coming to the support team. As we migrated to the new technology, would we see more case numbers? Or would the ‘one stop shop’ approach help reduce the number of cases coming in? Of course, the case numbers reduced! Our second metric was the background processes. Every week there would be a new challenge – payroll, finances, technology, reporting etc. For us, it was important to see that once we migrated, those processes worked smoothly, which they did. We also paid attention to whether we were getting any poor feedback from vendors who had integrated with the platform, which we didn’t.
Overall, our launches of OneHub in Australia, Singapore, and Thailand were hugely successful. I think that, because we always brought everything back to the employee experience and the user’s journey with the technology, our new system was always going to be a hit. Rolling out a global benefits platform in many territories is complex without a doubt, but when it’s an intuitive system that’s designed for both employees and admins, you can’t really miss!
Listen in to Tatiana’s full interview with our global experts, including further details on rolling out in across APAC, how the platform was able to incorporate a global wellbeing strategy, and more! Let’s go
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!