Companies revamping employee benefit strategy in view of pandemic, says survey

#Business, #Companies, #coronavirus

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The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled companies in India to revamp their employee benefit strategy mainly due to the war for talent, heightened focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as rising benefit costs, according to a survey.

While 68 per cent companies in India offer market competitive benefits, only 43 per cent address the individual needs of their workforce and even fewer (32 per cent) offer significant flexibility and choice, according to the India findings of the 2021 Benefits Trends Survey by Willis Towers Watson.

The 2021 Global Benefits Trends Survey are based on responses from a total of 3,642 employers globally, including 137 organisations in India with 8,79,000 employees at responding organisations.

It revealed that the top strategic objectives in the next two years are integrating wellbeing into the benefits package (65 per cent), increasing flexibility and choice (51 per cent), enhancing tools and technology to support employees (46 per cent) and focusing on inclusion and diversity in benefits provision (38 per cent), it added.

“The employee benefit strategy in India has traditionally focused on market competitive and benchmarked benefits which subsequently moved towards differentiation. However, the pandemic has driven employers in India towards an introspective benefit strategy built around individual needs, flexibility and choice and most importantly, employee experience,” Willis Towers Watson India Insurance Brokers Head of Health and Benefits Vinod V K said.

The survey revealed that most Indian employers have ranked it as the top external influence driving their benefit strategy.

Among the top five, remote working, rising costs, tight labour markets and advances in technology make up the other four external influences driving benefit strategy in India, it said.

The increased focus on ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) is ranked as number seven, it added.

The survey further revealed that employers are planning to make enhancements in healthcare benefits (58 per cent), flexibility and choice (54 per cent), support for mental health (64 per cent) and support for lifestyle improvement (52 per cent), among others.

Most employers are at an early stage of digital adoption but nine in 10 plan to embed and personalise the digital experience across benefits in the next two years, it noted.

Further, three in five employers are planning or considering adopting a digital data hub that houses all benefits, while a-third are evaluating using predictive analytics to forecast future costs and risks, it said.

Similarly, two in five employers are considering online dashboards for providing senior management with instant access to information on costs, risks, claims and utilisation, it added.

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