- HR teams are spending more on benefits, but only half are using analytics to monitor usage levels, according to a Sept. 2 report, The Age of Flexibility: Flexible, adaptable and resilient benefits, from Thomsons Online Benefits.
- Researchers found that 42% reported they are spending 20% of employees' baseline salaries on benefits, equivalent to over $12,000 per person, based on the average US salary. In 2019, 26% of organizations invested this amount. Thomsons, a provider of global employee benefits and employee engagement software, surveyed 542 HR leaders with organizations of 5,000 or more employees globally.
- The report also found that "this spend could be going under appreciated and under used" because only half of those surveyed said they are monitoring usage levels. HR leaders reported "too many data sources" as the biggest block to analyzing employee data. More than half — 55% — of the respondents reported spending 11 hours or more every month manually transferring data to and from providers and HR systems.
Employers say they are increasing the benefits they offer, but they also indicate they don't fully track how many employees take advantage.
"We're seeing a serious disconnect between investment and measurable returns, which is undermining HR teams' authority" and providing a block to further investment, Chris Bruce, co-founder of Thomsons Online Benefits, said in a statement.
Other reports have noted that, even as employers report a boost in some of the benefits they offer, a usage gap remains. An increased number of employers, for example, offered more financial wellness benefits in recent years, 53% compared to 24% four years ago, according to Bank of America's 2019 Workplace Benefits Report. However, the report also found that employees' sense of financial wellness decreased over the same time. In addition, many were not aware of and did not understand certain benefits such as healthcare savings and caregiving support. According to Bank of America, 88% of the employers reported offering caregiver benefits, but 71% of workers were not aware of what was available and a third said they had used employer-offered resources.
One benefit that has shown an increase in employee use is telehealth. COVID-19 and large employers have provided a boost to virtual healthcare solutions. Use of virtual medicine grew 1.6 times since last summer, Blue Cross Blue Shield noted in a report, COVID-19 National Pulse Survey, issued in May 2020. More than half of that growth has occurred since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Adoption by large employers has also played in a role in the recent popularity of telehealth. A 2019 National Business Group on Health survey of members found 73% of respondents had implemented a virtual care solution for mental health and behavioral health, while 9% planned to do so in 2020. Pre-pandemic, Amazon announced plans in February to provide increased access to live chat or video services with a physician or nurse practitioner to employees at its Seattle headquarters.