Gulshan Singh, Head – Compensation & Benefits, Near spoke to Pazcare about designing employee benefits for hybrid working - the new normal. Gulshan has 12+ years of experience in leading corporates and B2B SaaS start-ups and has hands-on experience in devising and implementing employee benefits. He is an employee advocate who instils staff confidence and designs strategies to attract and retain critical talent in a highly competitive market.
How can a company go beyond providing group health insurance?
Health should be a priority when a company designs employee benefits. Unlike the developed countries, India still lags behind in offering wholesome health coverage. Most of the companies are only offering group health insurance that caters to medical emergencies. Only a few Indian companies offer group life insurance and group personal accident insurance. However, dental and vision are still not a default part of the insurance coverage offered. I would suggest offering a comprehensive health benefits program that includes dental, vision, online doctor consultation as part of group health insurance along with term life insurance and group personal accident insurance.
Companies can also offer flexible benefits plans for tax savings. Companies can offer food, fuel, internet, uniform, gadget allowance and telecommunication reimbursements as FBP to help employees save taxes.
Read: Guide to group health insurance
What employee benefits will attract talent in GenZs and millennials?
The trend of the hybrid working model will increase in the future and this is what the young job-seekers and employees are prioritizing. They don’t prefer a monotonous routine and seek flexibility to work from different local or global locations. In this case, companies can think of extending global travel insurance. For a company with a hybrid or remote environment, work flexibility and allowance for home-office management will go a long way. And not to forget comprehensive health insurance!
The current generation invests in themselves and their knowledge. Providing them with upskilling and growth opportunities is one of the prevalent benefits asked for. For entertainment, subscriptions to corporate Netflix and Spotify etc. can be an add on.
Is there a lack of awareness and resources on types of benefits, budgeting and managing it?
Yes, more awareness is required and companies should understand that it is much easier to drive this with a tool/interface instead of manually doing this in-house. When there’s an interface between the employee and the HR, it is easy to manage as the system takes care of multiple things that need to be communicated via emails. Having a tool makes it easy for HRs to carry out the following things,
- Smooth onboarding for benefits
- Accessible information
- Manage claims
- Understand usage of benefits by employees
- Analysis of employee benefits
How to design and tailor benefits for a hybrid working model?
More than HRs designing, it is important for insurers to tweak their services as hybrid working will increase over time. Insuretech platforms are changing the landscape of employee benefits and making it easier than ever before. With getting pre-approvals for planned surgeries and online doctor consultations, these platforms help lessen the time consumed in the whole process.
In general, a hybrid workplace calls for clear communication, easy processes in accessing benefits and an inclusive benefits program. A one-size-fits-all approach may not work with hybrid and HRs have to get regular feedback from employees to refine the employee benefits programs. This is where the analysis given by employee administration platforms comes in handy for HRs to be agile in implementing employee benefits.
On the flip side, in tier 2 and 3 cities, employee benefits are not given due importance at all. It is usually not a norm to spend anything more than CTC. How employee benefits improve productivity, efficiency and loyalty need to be highlighted and more reports have to be published for this to pick up in tier 2 and 3 cities.
HRs role in designing employee benefits for a hybrid workplace
HRs role is evolving like never before in a hybrid environment. With regards to employee benefits, HRs have to assess the employees and understand their requirements as it slightly differs with the average age of the employees. You will also have to look at the salary structure and base benefits on it. For example, if you pay employees high then you can focus on flexible tax benefits. If you are not offering a competitive salary and have a younger generation then you package benefits as a compensation alternative. However, the biggest challenge remains to be budget given by the companies. Employees do enjoy the benefits when it is completely free. With a limited budget, when you go for copay where the employees also have to pay a certain amount, they become a bit hesitant. And the biggest challenge in implementation remains to be HRs coordinating with employees and insurers when it comes to escalations, rejections and claim process.
Traditional HR roles need to be upgraded and be future proof for the hybrid working models. To maintain brand loyalty and to increase employer value proposition, HRs need to think out of the traditional mindset and participate in building people strategy along with the management.