Insight Summit TX18: Using Benefits to Create the Workforce You Want
At the first Evive Insight Summit in Texas, Toby Todd, Head of Total Rewards for Ericsson and Ben Jackson, Assistant VP of Health & Welfare Operations for AT&T discussed how taking a curated approach to benefits helps each of their companies to create the workforce they want.
What’s more, the conversations that resulted gave everyone an opportunity to share their own stories and contribute their own insights. Below are some of the key points the group covered:
Pay attention to the problems
Pain points can’t be alleviated without a clear understanding of the outcomes you’re after. It’s about showing employees “we recognize you and we care about you,” Todd said.
For example, Todd shared that Ericsson has observed the disproportionately lower numbers of female engineers in their workforce. Increasing that segment is one of the outcomes they want their benefits to drive, and simply listening to current employees for recommendations proved to be a great place to start. As one result of the feedback from female employees, Ericsson added 100% paid parental leave benefits for working moms and dads to take time off with newborns or recently adopted children.
But Todd also touched on the fact that benefits are constantly evolving, as are the needs surrounding them. “You never get to the finish line,” he said, emphasizing that it’s necessary to react as quickly as possible to the changing circumstances in order to keep up.
Reach people in the right ways
An improved culture where employees can feel encouraged to optimize their well-being and productivity is another desired outcome Todd mentioned. To support this, he highlighted some of the communications changes the company made and found successful.
- Single sign-on access to all vendor sites
- Live webinars
- Periodic touchpoints to the home, improving visibility to spouses
- Benefits fairs at major sites
- Benefits surveys
What these changes boil down to is making answers simpler and more accessible. “It’s a quest for easy,” Todd said, referencing the key to engaging people with these methods. “We need to try to meet everyone where they are.”
Know your audience
Jackson presented how benefits have accelerated AT&T’s corporate culture. He started off by reviewing the demographics of his workforce, which includes a heavy STEM focus (approximately 65,000 employees are data scientists, software engineers, or in a similar role).
He went on to share the top factors necessary to contain benefits costs, particularly as the ever-growing spectrum of employee needs is expanding benefits choices.
- Shareholder value
“Most of the savings will have to come from engaging people,” Jackson said regarding cost savings and digital navigation.
Some attendees found these learnings reaffirming for where their company stands. “[We’re] in line with the private sector when it comes to benefits offerings, which means we’re competitive with other industries who are recruiting for the same kind of talent,” one person said.
Having the right strategies in place for unique goals is important—and matching them up appropriately is even more critical. “Strategies drive the benefits programs that are implemented,” Jackson said. “Still, if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, let’s fail fast and try something else.”
Keep it personal
In a time where vendor ecosystems can grow so large, Jackson noted that well-being innovation is “exploding,” and that we must focus on personalized recommendations to truly engage people in a space that can so easily get overwhelmed.
“Data-driven recommendations get the best engagement,” said Jackson, clarifying the importance of focusing on the why and when—not just the what—of benefits messaging. It’s all about capturing employee preferences and using the appropriate data, he explained, and the evolution of incentives has helped to increase participation as well. Programs that allow employees to earn and redeem points related to benefits have been successful at AT&T for improving engagement.
When asked about most valuable takeaways from the Summit, one person noted that the importance of “making benefits meaningful to your population” stood out as a key message.
“We’re competing with Facebook and YouTube to engage people in their free time,” Jackson said. “You need to make your content engaging and personalized, and add value rapidly to drive them to come back. We need to bring that to benefits.”
Be part of the bigger conversation
Todd and Jackson both inspired compelling discussions among the attendees in the room. Many in the audience have to contend with similar workforce challenges and saw this as an opportunity to explore new avenues of solving them.
“It was a great discussion of how each group has such varying strategies and priorities, and it spurred conversation around these same areas for [others] in the room,” said one participant.
Whether the Summit gave employers more confidence in their strategies, shed light on new opportunities, or simply introduced them to more experts in the field, it brought something for everyone—and everyone brought something to it.