Last month, Thomsons Online Benefits announced a partnership with Birst, a BI and analytics software company. Through the collaboration, Thomsons Online Benefits will help companies measure the effectiveness of their rewards programs, using information to tailor benefits strategy and enhance talent attrition.
“Spending on people is one of the biggest areas of investment for companies of all sizes, and making this spending as efficient and data-driven as possible is essential for HR teams,” Richard Neale, Director of EMEA Marketing at Birst, said in a press release. “Providing insight into how benefits programs deliver value is one area that HR Directors can immediately take advantage of, both for their own decision making and for informing their companies’ wider talent and staffing strategies.”
HR Talent Management spoke with Brenden Mielke, Director of Product management at Thomsons Online Benefits, about the qualities of an effective program and the ever-evolving total rewards industry.
HR Talent Management: What are some of the signs of an effective benefits program?
Brendan Mielke: First, you should have good uptake of the benefits – the benefits that you deploy are ones that your employees want. There’s no sense in spending money on a benefits scheme and designing it and all of that unless your employees are going to utilize it. That is the first order. The second order is that it’s valued. Your employees should feel that they are getting a good deal from you as the employer. As the employer, I am trying to retain my staff and keep them engaged, that they are not just looking at the paycheck that they get every month, they are looking at the full suite of benefits that they get from the employer … And we look at a number of different metrics: are people even logging in to the platform to engage? Are they collecting benefits or are they just taking on the basics, or are they utilizing the options that your creating, and then what’s happening longer term over retention and attrition? Are you seeing those start to shift as you’re putting new programs in place?
HRTM: What are some changes you’ve seen in the total rewards industry?
BM: It really varies market by market. In absolute truth, the UK is a very mature market when it comes to flexible benefits programs. We are seeing a lot of innovation in types of benefits being offered, the ways the benefits are being funded, etc… So a good example that I will give you: we have a bit of our platform that was originally designed for Asia for flexible spending accounts. So in Asia, instead of getting benefits that are purely premium-based—medical is a good example—you get a pot of money that you can claim against instead of an insurance type of benefit. What we are starting to see is a similar type of benefit appear in the UK and the European market, but more around reimbursement types of benefits. So we have a client that is using this to offer work boosts to their employees as a benefit. We have a client that is looking to use it to enable employees to top up on things like personal learning, you know, personal wellness and all that kind of stuff. We are seeing trends kind of move across that way. Beyond the traditional: what level of medical coverage do you want, what level of life insurance, how much do you want to put into your pension? So we are starting to see these more innovative ways of giving a pot of money, or options to employees, not necessarily increasing the cost for the employer, but doing it in a way that the employees use it more.
HRTM: In terms of technology, are there any changes that have impacted the total rewards industry?
BM: Absolutely, especially at the global basis…What we are seeing is a very big increase in demand from multi-national clients that…have solved the problem in the US, they’ve gotten their benefits programs online and now they are starting to turn their eye to rest of the world. They are looking out there for a solution to automate as much as they can of the process to the share to solve business processes and create shared service centers. To get that cost control for the visibility to what they are really spending on a global basis – and they’re really uncovering that and going: “Wow this is a big spend for us.” … But at the end of that game, you know, its getting the insights from it from the deployment of our platform – and then they start to look at: “alright, so I’ve deployed the platform now what can I learn from it?” That’s where the analytics center that we built together with Birst really starts to come in to its own, with the clients that are looking to harness the data that is now alive on the platform.
Birst is the global leader in Cloud BI and Analytics for the Enterprise. The company helps organizations make thousands of decisions better, every day, for every person. Birst’s patented 2-tier data architecture and comprehensive BI platform sits on top of all of your data, to unify, refine and embed data consistently into every individual decision – up and down the org chart. Thousands of the most demanding international businesses trust Birst Cloud BI to make metric-driven business execution a reality. Learn more at www.birst.com and join the conversation @BirstBI.
About Thomsons Online Benefits
Founded in 2000, Thomsons Online Benefits is the business behind Darwin™, the leading software for global employee benefits administration. Their mission is to use technology to revolutionize the employee benefits market. Their 400+ Thomsons People are devoted to helping HR and reward professionals to deliver impactful, cost effective benefit schemes, whilst enabling their employees to engage with their benefits, throughout their lives. They work with the world’s leading employers to maximize the power of Darwin™ in 74 countries and 22 languages.