In today's business landscape, companies need to offer their target customers a unique customer experience in order to gain a decisive competitive advantage. The same is true for their own employees: Companies that specifically promote the employee experience benefit from higher productivity and customer satisfaction1.
This includes not only the digitalisation of HR processes, but also personalised benefit offers that are tailored to the individual needs and circumstances of employees, especially in the area of employee wellbeing - physical, mental and financial wellbeing. The Corona pandemic, characterised by insecurity and virtual work, has once again shown many employers the important role that relevant wellbeing offerings and their digital delivery can play in motivating employees.
However, according to Mercer's Global Talent Trends 2020 (GTT) study, which analysed over 7,300 responses from executives, HR leaders and employees worldwide, only 4 per cent of companies say they offer a good employee experience. And around 40 percent of employees in Western Europe say that although they are basically satisfied with their employer, they are still thinking about leaving their company. What is the reason for this?
Digitalisation and wellbeing
Only 22 per cent of employees worldwide say that the HR processes in their company are digital. However, half of the executives and HR managers surveyed see a good digital experience as a top challenge with regard to their workforce. The topic is slowly catching on in the companies.
For half of all managers, supporting the health and well-being of employees is also a key challenge. Yet only 29 per cent of companies have a strategy in place, and barely a quarter analyse the success of their programs. According to the GTT study, 2 out of 3 employees are at risk of burnout, while about 20 percent live with a chronic health problem. Contrarily, highly engaged employees are six times more likely to say their company is focused on their health and wellbeing.
Leaders and HR leaders have long known that engaged employees are critical to sustainable success. This is backed up by the study results: Engaged employees are five times more likely to describe themselves as high performers, and they are three times more likely to stay with the company. They are also more likely to extend their working lives and have a 20 per cent lower risk of burn-out. Companies therefore need to take a serious look at the employee experience and identify the right levers to offer their employees a better experience.
Benefits shape the experience
A central element and key factor of the employee experience are the benefits offered. There is a lot of potential here to build a unique and personalised employee experience that can attract and retain much-needed talent and promote the health and productivity of the workforce. However, much of this potential remains untapped in many companies in Switzerland.
Often, monetary or quasi-monetary benefits are offered. Our data2 shows that, depending on the employee group, the top benefits include a company car, mobile phone, training and further education, participation in the second pillar, insurance benefits or additional days of holiday. Wellbeing benefits such as leisure activities or gym memberships are only offered in less than 20 percent of companies.
Companies are therefore faced with a variety of opportunities and challenges at the same time: On the one hand, building a flexible benefits offering tailored to employees and communicating it effectively to the workforce. On the other hand, the efficient administration of these benefits, including the integration of external benefit providers. In addition, multinational companies have different benefit catalogues per country, which have to be administered in different languages. Usually, this cannot be satisfactorily handled by existing structures - a lot of resources are needed, and the costs quickly skyrocket.
From analysis to implementation
So how do you arrive at a benefits offering that promotes the employee experience and makes a lasting contribution to ensuring that key talent is not only retained, but also engaged and performing at their best? We have identified three basic steps:
Based on an analysis of employee preferences, the right benefits strategy can be identified and continuously optimised: Which fringe benefits are really appreciated? Are there topics (e.g. health, finances) that are particularly in demand? Which groups (age, gender, etc.) desire which benefits? Tools such as digital focus groups or conjoint preference analyses are suitable for obtaining as realistic a picture as possible.
The benefits strategy must strike a balance between the expectations of the employees and the possibilities of the company. With the help of personas, desires and offered benefits can be clustered in order to determine necessary investments and strategic partners and providers as well as potentials for synergies and cost savings.
A digital platform is at the heart of the implementation of the benefits strategy. Employees expect easy and flexible access to a complete overview of their benefits and the options available to them. At the same time, the platform must be managed efficiently by HR and seamlessly integrate HRIS, payroll, pension fund and external partners as well as all processes. With Darwin, Mercer offers a global solution that has also been localised for Switzerland since 2020 and is the market leader worldwide.
If you approach employee benefits in a targeted manner and with a view to the employee experience, you can achieve a win-win situation: thanks to a personalised offering, employees are more committed and more productive. And the company benefits from efficient implementation and can save resources and costs thanks to tailor-made benefits.
 MIT Sloan School of Management. Building Business Value with Employee Experience, 2017.
 Mercer Total Remuneration Surveys: Annual salary and benefits survey among more than 350 companies in Switzerland