The pandemic has led to a new focus on HR technology as employee experience and engagement became more important to companies.
One of the companies that have seen increased attention is Benefex.
Benefex is an employee engagement tool that allows real-time data insights, communication about benefits and targets as well as the ability to integrate with existing HR systems.
Safe to say, plenty of companies have seen the importance of these kinds of tools.
UNLEASH recently covered a piece of research by Benefex that soberingly outlined that 87% of HR leaders have experienced more employees disclosing issues around mental health, and 82% have reported that more staff are feeling lonely.
Naturally, UNLEASH was keen to speak to Benefex about this research and what managers and HR departments can do to help employees in need.
So we spoke to CEO and founder of Benefex, Matt Macri-Waller, about the importance of employee experience in the current and future of work.
Employee experience has changed
It can not be understated how dramatically employee experience has climbed businesses’ priority list during the pandemic.
Macri-Waller gives his perspective on the change and notes that it’s been fascinating to see mental and physical health become front and center of workplace strategies.
“I think organizations have been acutely aware of the impact that [the pandemic is] having on people because everyone’s been going through a lot themselves.
One of the most promising elements that Macri-Waller has seen come out of the pandemic is that CEOs now see the need to have a conversation about employee experience.
In fact, he adds that in some instances wellbeing is “being driven by the chair or the CEO.”
Macri-Waller notes “that’s a massive shift from where we were over the last three or four years” and he partly attributes to social trends of discussing wellbeing more openly. This can be seen by Simone Biles talking about her wellbeing publicly during the Olympics.
Despite a general growth in focus on employee experience, different industries have prioritized different elements.
Macri-Waller speaks about these differing methodologies: “The CEOs I get to talk to, and the boards that I spend some time with, are very clear to me and are saying ‘we’ve got to start to deal with our people in the same way we do with our customers.’
“I think you’re seeing some of that variation happening in industry.
“There’s a lot of kind of FOMO, and a bit of ‘they’re doing it, so we need to do it as well.’
“But actually, more so I think it’s just those people are listening to employees more and the whole trend of more regular feedback.”
In terms of how technology enables this feedback, Macri-Waller explains: “Successful products have been launched in that space, and are really helping organizations to get more of a temperature check.”
Nonetheless, challenges can be specific to different industries.
Experiences in every industry
More broadly, Macri-Waller reflects on his experience: “Even the smallest things, the way you build those experiences, says everything about how you think about your people.
“I think a lot of organizations necessarily focus on employees and how they feel, what they’re doing through those experiences, and how they feel treated.”
This is because employee experience “comes out every day in how they [employees] interact with each other, how they interact with customers.” It also comes across in the ways employees behave and if they stay.
On the back of this Macri-Waller states: “Ultimately, our mission, my north star, has always been that everyone deserves an exceptional employee experience every day.”
He adds that Benefex focuses on individual employees and their finances as well as interests.
Moreover, Benefex is interested in company culture and how they can build towards their goals like environmental, social, and governance (ESG) targets.
Macri-Waller argues that companies should look at the results that they will get from investments in employee wellbeing.
Typically, Macri-Waller states that companies ask whether investing in employee experience will help employee retention and continue to be valuable going forward out of the pandemic.
This is validated by research from Nvolve Group that shows benefits can be seen in more engaged employees which in turn equals increased productivity. This can also lead to more revenue and higher profits. On the back of this, the value of employee experience tools can be significant.
Choosing not to invest in employee experience
Despite the value of investing in employee experience being apparent in engagement and satisfaction, Modern Health, a leading workplace mental health platform, found that 60% of HR leaders intended to remove wellbeing investments in the coming year.
UNLEASH was keen to get Macri-Waller’s perspective on these kinds of plans. He explains: “if the business can’t survive, I understand that sometimes people have to make those very hard decisions.
However, he adds “when you’re looking at areas to cut, I think you should look at wellbeing as one of the very last.”
Macri-Waller contextualizes the actual cost to companies of wellbeing as he states “I think what is fascinating is a partner of ours did some research and they said that they spend more on toilet roll on average than they do on mental health.”
The importance of employee experience is increasingly apparent as companies struggle to retain staff, and studies show the importance of wellbeing initiatives in these efforts.
However, how does an employee experience platform continue to evolve in the changing landscape?
Macri-Waller says that being flexible is key to future success in the workplace.
Speaking more personally, he notes: “I’d say employee wellbeing will continue to evolve. Some of the products people started using will get binned, but some of them will carry on to becoming useful. We think it’ll carry on being exciting for the next couple years [alongside] still quite dramatic change.”
In terms of Benefex, Macri-Waller draws attention to the company’s recent “customer conference [which] was a move towards a platform where we’ve created what we call home.”
He notes that its OneHub will allow numerous experiences from any device. This is an area that the company intends to build upon and it is also offering content packs that will educate businesses on wellbeing.
With this one-stop solution, expect Benefex to remain an essential player in the employee experience market.