New software models benefits packages based on worker feedback

What if employees could have more of a say in their benefits package? Software company Qualtrics hopes their new tool will do just that — give workers a bigger voice in the benefit design process.

The company recently released the Employee Benefits Optimizer, a platform that leverages employee feedback to design benefits packages, and employers including investment bank Goldman Sachs are using it.

Jay Choi, vice president of Qualtrics’ employee experience offering, says many organizations don’t take employee feedback into consideration when designing their packages. While some employers conduct studies to gauge employees’ opinions, it often takes months to get results. Plus, data can be difficult to analyze.

“While it’s easy to survey employees, it’s difficult to analyze what truly drives impact within budget or within various departments of an organization,” he says.

The optimizer allows employers to gauge how important different benefits offerings are to employees, such as paid time off or health savings account contributions. Employers create a survey and send it to workers via various channels including emails and text messages.

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When employers receive the survey results, they see a breakdown of how important each benefit is to workers. The software also shows employers what an optimal benefits package would look like.

Based on that optimal package, employers can model trade offs, Choi says. These are typically areas where employer could make small changes to the package in order to help fit the needs and budget of an organization. For example, based on worker feedback, a company may decide that instead of giving less paid time off, they should reduce an HSA contribution to meet budgetary requirements.

“[The tool] enables them to make decisions based on data that shows trade-offs employees are willing to make,” Choi says.

The optimizer is part of the company’s larger EmployeeXM platform. A number of large employers including Adidas, Deloitte, Disney, Microsoft, Target and Zillow Group have access to the optimizer through EmployeeXM, although Qualtrics did not specify if they were using it. The price of the software varies per number of workers in an organization.

“As we consider our forward benefits and wellness strategy, we have found the Qualtrics tool extremely useful in helping us understand what programs our employees value most,” David Landman, global head of talent assessment at Goldman Sachs, says in a statement. “On the Qualtrics platform, we can design a conjoint study that helps us obtain employee feedback and identify preferences across various demographic factors.”

Employers are increasingly relying on analytics to help improve their benefits offerings. For example, software company Springbuk uses AI-driven predictive models and employee health data to forecast certain health risks within an organization. Based on this information, HR and benefits managers can determine what types of condition management and wellness programs may be the most impactful for their population.

“An HR person might want to know what are the population health trends for my members and then, based on that, which disease management programs would make the most sense onsite,” says Amy Brown, vice president of Health Intelligence at Springbuk.

Benefits are constantly changing and it can be difficult for employers to stay up to speed without adopting new technology, Choi says.

“Employee expectations are constantly changing, which means employers need to offer competitive benefits and rewards to attract, engage, and retain the right talent for their organization — and they need to assess their offering more frequently than ever before,” he says.

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