June 26, 2024

An Open Opportunity for Success: Optimize Total Rewards and Drive a Better Employee Experience

In today's competitive job market, optimizing total rewards to enhance the employee experience is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. But what does this actually entail?

We recently explored this question in a webinar moderated by OneSource Virtual (OSV) Customer Storyteller Steph Jarman. Industry experts H. Levett Washington, SVP and head of HR at QAD, and Alexa Durham, solution consultant for OSV, joined us to share their perspectives and practical advice.

This blog summarizes key takeaways from our panel discussion, offering practical strategies for HR leaders to improve their total rewards approach and boost employee satisfaction. The full webinar is available on demand if you want a deeper dive.

Meeting employee expectations is a challenge

To set the stage for our panel, we shared some striking statistics.

Often, there’s a real disparity between how employers perceive their total rewards packages and how employees feel about them. According to research by Aflac:

  • 80% of organizations believe their employees are highly satisfied with their total rewards packages
  • But only 58% of employees report high satisfaction with these packages

This 22-point discrepancy underscores how urgent it is for HR to reassess their strategies.

Structure your operations to create a thriving workforce

Creating a thriving workforce requires thoughtful operational planning. First, aligning your technical needs with your daily operations can create an environment where employees can easily manage administrative tasks and core work activities. You should also prioritize listening and feedback, especially during times of change. Implement regular surveys and feedback collections to foster a culture where employees feel heard.

For global organizations, ensure that diverse needs based on job type, location, and function are addressed to provide more tailored support and engagement strategies.

“We started with listening to our employees. What were they having challenges with? We then allowed the data to drive some of our behaviors and changes to support our global workforce." – H. Levett Washington, QAD

Finally, encourage small group interactions and build communities, even in virtual environments. As Washington noted, "Creating those communities where people with either challenges or issues or like-minded thought can come together... is extremely important to driving that engagement."

Help employees navigate the benefits selection process

Guiding employees through the benefits selection process can be challenging but crucial for engagement and satisfaction. Start by educating them. Clearly explain what programs are available and help them understand the differences between things like PPOs and HSAs. You can make it easier for them to get advice through office hours, where employees can talk to experts about their specific benefit issues.

Diversifying your communication channels is also essential. As Durham pointed out, “There's more than one way to cut an onion. The more that you can have different modes of communication, whether that's via email, technology, roadshows… employees will want that variety to meet them where they’re most comfortable.”

Remember, the goal is to ensure employees feel connected to the process and comfortable with their choices. One way to do this is to leverage technology to allow employees to run simulations and cost comparisons to understand more about what’s available where they live.

"Have a creative lens to assess what's right for your organization now. What's happening within your company will drive the strategy you need for engagement and communication.” – Alexa Durham, OSV

Align workforce planning with your total rewards experience

Aligning workforce planning with your total rewards strategy requires analyzing regional differences and competitive benchmarking. Washington highlighted the necessity of tailoring benefits packages to different regions: "What we offer in India may be vastly different — not may be, it is vastly different — than what we offer in Mexico or the United States." This approach keeps companies competitive in diverse markets.

To align workforce planning effectively:

  1. Identify growth areas and benchmark against top-tier companies
  2. Adjust packages based on market position
  3. Consider how workplace policies impact talent acquisition
  4. Use data and analytics for decision-making and tracking results
  5. Regularly reassess and adjust strategies based on goals

By adopting a data-driven, region-specific approach, companies can better support workforce planning objectives and attract top talent.

Enhance the employee experience

Enhancing the employee experience requires ongoing effort and communication to ensure employees remain engaged and aware of their benefits.

Durham emphasized the importance of frequent, diverse communication: “Communication on what is available for the employees…is critical. I know email is certainly one of the most common ways that communication can transpire, but by no means should that be the only thing that is done.”

Key strategies to enhance the employee experience include:

  1. Utilizing multiple communication channels beyond email
  2. Providing user-friendly technology for benefits information and selection
  3. Continuing engagement beyond open enrollment
  4. Reminding employees of available benefits at relevant moments
  5. Creating a community where employees feel comfortable asking questions

"The conversation doesn't end with the end of open enrollment. That's really the beginning of the conversation with employees about their benefits.” – Alexa Durham, OSV

Key takeaways from the Q&A

Our panelists also offered valuable insights during a brief Q&A period.

They discussed the growing importance of non-traditional benefits beyond standard healthcare and retirement packages. These include voluntary programs, enhanced parental leave, and fertility benefits.

They also noted that partnerships are crucial in helping small HR teams face complex challenges. These partnerships can provide expertise in various areas, helping small teams punch above their weight.

On technology implementation, Washington offered a cautionary note: "Don't implement technology just for the sake of technology. Oftentimes, we get caught up in the latest and greatest toy… But it's not just about the technology; it's about the adoption of that technology within your culture.”

The panelists also emphasized the need for scalable processes and long-term planning. They recommended developing flexible 3–5-year plans for benefits and health welfare programs.

Initiatives like open PTO and earned wage access also help build trust and enhance the employee experience. These solutions benefit both employees and HR. An open PTO policy can reduce the additional work needed for time tracking, leading to greater efficiency. Similarly, earned wage access provides flexible employee pay options and is a cost-effective and simple option for HR rollout.

“Don't be afraid to be a trendsetter. Get out there ahead of the curve a little bit. Be a thought leader in terms of what you might be able to offer to your employees at a price point that makes the most sense to your organization.” – H. Levett Washington, QAD

Watch the entire on-demand webinar for more insights

Optimizing total rewards is crucial for enhancing the employee experience and staying competitive. In our conversation with our panelists, we highlighted how data, technology, and communication can be your greatest allies in creating an effective total rewards package for your employees. Meanwhile, continuous improvements and regularly reassessing your strategy can help you respond to employee feedback and market trends.

For more insights, the full webinar is available on demand

About OneSource Virtual

OneSource Virtual (OSV) delivers in-tenant technology and expert services to automate the administrative, transactional tasks of Workday payroll, taxes, payments, and benefits. With over 1,000 customers and 95% customer retention , OSV is the leading exclusive provider of Business-Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS) solutions for Workday customers. 

Want to learn how we help payroll improve the employee experience? Contact us.  

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