Poor use of data limits value of employee benefits programmes according to the latest research. 

Only 12% of businesses use analytics for employee benefits

According to the latest Benefits Trends Survey from Willis Towers Watson, only 12% of UK businesses currently use organisational analytics to test the effectiveness of programmes. A greater number use medical claims data, but this figure still stands at only 29%, meaning many organisations may be unable to measure the true value of their employee benefits and the health related issues facing their workforce.

The Benefits Trends survey is a global study that tracks high level trends around benefit strategy, health and financial wellbeing, and the design, delivery and cost of employer benefits plans. The 2017 survey was concluded in June 2017 and was completed by 1,274 companies across the EMEA region, including 289 in the United Kingdom.

76% looking to improve data for employee benefits

It is an issue that seems to have been recognised by businesses, however, as 76% say they will make use of organisational analytics within the next three years, an increase of 64 percentage points from today.

“Business intelligence is dependent on good data and the underuse of workplace health data is traditionally one of the biggest barriers preventing employee benefits from being used in a strategic manner,” said Mark Ramsook, Head of Sales and Marketing at Willis Towers Watson Health and Benefits.

“Thinking around benefits has often focused on issues such as statutory requirements or a perceived need to be competitive in the job market. But a tactical approach of this nature will typically make it possible to manage costs only in the short term, and limit the potential for benefits to deliver true business value. Instead, businesses would be advised to analyse the data at their disposal – such as claims data, absence data or information from health risk assessments – in order to target benefits towards areas of most need and tailor the offering depending on the requirements of different segments of the workforce.”

Benefits must be driven around the needs of the workforce

The value of a data-driven approach appears to be understood by companies, as 62% of those surveyed claim it is important to design programmes that account for the specific needs of the workforce or drive behaviour change. A further 74% also believe it is important for them to benchmark programmes against competitors.

“Auditing and benchmarking existing schemes represents a good starting point for businesses that are keen to take action,” added Ramsook. “It is then important to establish appropriate governance and processes for ongoing measurement to ensure the effectiveness of benefits is continually assessed, taking into account changing workforce needs. This approach will allow benefits to have a positive impact in a variety of areas, including sickness absence and overall workforce wellbeing.”