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4 Tips for More Meaningful Benefits Measurement

Heidi Erdmann-Sullivan on October 10, 2017 10:42 AM

Whether we like it or not, it's necessary: measurement.  In the past, HR struggled to find enough data to evaluate benefits programs.  Now,  we're inundated.  From employee survey feedback to automated systems' reports, to demographics data to utilization rates, it can be a deluge of information.  Not to mention the plethora of published research to keep up with throughout the year. The challenge now comes in parsing out what's most valuable to your organization, and translating it in a way that's meaningful to both you and your key internal audiences. 

Here are four tips to help you break through the data, and think about benefits measurement more meaningfully.

  1. Set objectives, metrics and timelines that are aligned with your organization’s larger business goals 
    Sync up the benefits programs that directly support the achievement of these goals. Script simple statements like: “Reduce employee absenteeism by 50 days within six months of backup child care benefit launch.” Other key areas where your benefits program will make a direct impact on business goals include: engagement, productivity, retention, hiring and morale. And when you think about frequency and timing of your goal setting and corresponding measurements, think outside of just the annual preparation period for Open Enrollment.

  2. Think of ROI in terms of “Return on Individual” 
    Return on Investment is critical to determining the hard-dollar value of your benefits programs, but so is the “Return on Individual.” As outlined in this Forbes article, more and more organizations are looking outside of conventional metrics and viewing employee happiness and satisfaction as measurements of success.  The end result? Higher engagement.  And those organizations that score high in terms of satisfied individuals do so in large part because of the benefits and policies they offer to better support employee needs.  These companies see lower voluntary turnover rates – and greater productivity.  

  3. Remember that qualitative, anecdotal measurement counts
    It’s in the numbers, but the words say a lot, too.  Keep a file of those important employee conversations, emails and online chats, comments from surveys, and notes from your town-hall style benefits meetings in a simple spreadsheet. Those real-life stories should weigh into your decisions as to which benefits stay and which go.  They can also have a big potential impact when presenting your case persuasively to leadership.  

  4. Select only the most appropriate, valuable nuggets to share with your audiences

    Most of us only want to hear what’s relevant to our immediate needs, goals or interests. Approach your data not only with what you need to manage your programs, but also what your audiences (leadership, fellow HR decision-makers and employees) need to know.  Next, think about how they’ll hear it best. Rewrite and package your key learnings in an appropriate voice, and utilize communication vehicles that will be best received by each group.  For leadership,  a brief report of compelling, high-level findings impacting strategic business goals.  For departmental decision-makers, data-driven recommendations (on budget) delivered in "HR speak."  And for employees,  simple, relatable stats - or better yet, indidivual success stories -  broadcast via social media about how a benefit has boosted wellness or reduced stress.  

This post is the fifth in a five-part series based on the Care@Work Webinar:  Always the Right Fit – Benefits Through the Employee Experience, exploring how to attract, retain and engage your multi-generational employees. 

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Heidi Erdmann-Sullivan

As Director, Sales and Marketing at, Heidi is responsible for developing innovative, results-driven programs for Care@Work – a consumer-centered portfolio of family care for employers and their diverse workforce. Passionate about helping HR professionals improve the lives of their employees, Heidi follows and writes about the top trends and research impacting both employees and employers in the workplace, including the future of work, consumerism and HR, building employer brands, pay equity and paid leave policy, and company culture. Prior to joining, Heidi led marketing teams at a variety of technology companies including Constant Contact. She lives north of Boston with her husband Brian and their “daughter” Lexi – a 10 lb. Shih-Tzu therapy dog.