Ensure your benefits programs are leading to positive financial health outcomes for all employees by prioritizing the needs of those who are struggling the most.
Benefits programs are often designed based on the principle of equality – providing the same benefits to all employees.Yet even if benefits are available to all employees, it is important to consider which employees are currently using them. Could gaps in utilization among demographic groups or types of workers indicate some groups are less aware of certain benefits than others? Or that barriers or biases prevent certain employees from taking advantage? Answering these questions can point the way toward potential solutions to increase uptake.
Beyond equal access and utilization, an effective financial health strategy must embrace equity as a guiding principle. This means driving toward equal outcomes for all employees.
For example, equity-based approaches could include:
These are not three distinct approaches to prioritizing needs, but rather are slightly different paths to identifying the actions you can take that are likely to have the greatest impact on your workforce. A best-in-class financial health strategy will take a holistic approach to addressing all of your employees’ needs. But building such a strategy takes time, and the steps described above can help you decide where to begin.
Recognizing that healthcare premiums make up a significant percentage of employees’ take-home pay, particularly for lower-wage workers, Bank of America varies its medical premium contribution by annual pay level, with larger subsidies for those earning less. Since 2012, the company has not raised medical premiums for employees earning less than $50,000.7 As of 2019, only a quarter of large employers varied their contributions to healthcare premiums based on employee pay levels.8
Step 1: Gather Relevant Data
There are two key ways to diagnose employees’ needs: mining existing HR, benefits, and payroll data, and surveying employees. Using these two data sources together can provide you with the most holistic picture of your employees’ financial health.
Step 2: Disaggregate Data
Assessing data by important demographic and job characteristics can help you prioritize needs and ensure that your benefits programs are leading to positive financial health outcomes for all employees.
Step 3: Prioritize Needs
Choosing a strategy to prioritize needs is critical for effective execution. Once you’ve evaluated employee needs, you can decide where to focus based on financial health status, acute need, or disparity of outcomes.