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How digital technology can play a role in building workforce resilience

Aon reveals the important role technology can play in improving health, building resilience and offering personalised benefits choices to the workforce

Aon

According to Aon’s Rising Resilient Report, nine in 10 workers wish to embrace modern technology at work, yet only 20 per cent of companies are deploying HR and productivity solutions on mobile.

 

Over the past decade, employers in Ireland have placed an ever-greater focus on the health and wellbeing of their employees.

At the very heart of this transformation is a fundamental shift in where, how and when work gets done. The emergence of the information age and an exponential growth of digital technology has ensured that information is more readily accessible, while at the same time, our expectations have become more complex. Employees are demanding more of their employers and to allow them to manage their work and home lives with more autonomy.

Ensuring people feeling valued and rewarded for the work they do, as well as meeting their health and wellbeing needs, has become a critical way in which to cultivate an engaged, productive and resilient workforce. Those that recognise the link between digital technology and employee health and wellbeing can build a more resilient workforce for the future.

There is a big gap to close

According to Aon’s Rising Resilient Report, nine in 10 workers wish to embrace modern technology at work, yet only 20 per cent of companies are deploying HR and productivity solutions on mobile.

Many companies, especially larger organisations, are facing difficulties in not only embracing the right digital solutions that work for them but ensuring they are adopted by the entire team. Whether employee distrust, digital boredom (as people move onto the latest best thing), or general disinterest, understanding what works is essential to realising the value of health and wellbeing benefits.

Despite the options now available – from enabling employees to interact with their health on a daily basis through health engagement apps, to ensuring they are able to pick the right benefits that suit theirs and their family’s needs — the gap between the digital solutions people need and the options employers provide needs to be closed if we are to create a resilient workforce.

Ian Thornton, managing director - health and benefits, Aon in Ireland, believes that the future workforce is going to look very different from today’s. ‘The flexibility and personalisation that digital technology has brought is having an effect on how people engage with work. If hybrid working becomes a way of life, as is the current trend, it could change the dynamics of employment, along with the expectations, as a new type of employee enters the workplace. This will be a challenge for companies. But if the response is right, it could be a source of competitive advantage for them,” says Thornton. 

Ian Thornton, managing director - health and wellbeing, Aon in Ireland
Ian Thornton, managing director - health and benefits, Aon in Ireland

Striking the right balance for employees and providing the technology to enhance business resilience is crucial if companies are going to remain leaders in their market.

Shifting employee expectations

Employee expectations have changed significantly, and digital technologies are required to manage the associated delivery complexity. Thornton added: “A more health focused approach to employee benefits is also being driven by the changing needs and priorities of employees and their families. 

Employers will need to begin bridging the growing divide between traditional employee benefits, the changing nature of work, and the evolving needs of workers

“According to our latest Employee Mindset study, pay and benefits are the number one reason employees are attracted to a company and the main driver in keeping them engaged and motivated whilst at work. However, a mismatch between evolving employee expectations and perceptions of their employment has emerged. Almost 50 per cent of employees consider above average benefits as critical to retaining staff. Yet, only 28 per cent feel their benefits set their current employer apart from competitors,” says Thornton.

This gap between expectations and reality points towards the fact that traditional workplace benefits and rewards are no longer fit for purpose.

To build more resilient workforces into the future, employers will need to begin bridging the growing divide between traditional employee benefits, the changing nature of work and most importantly the evolving needs of workers.

Making benefits personal

Thornton added: “From working with some of Ireland’s leading employers we understand that to deliver on the complex needs of the modern workforce, organisations need to take a more flexible, considered and above all personal approach to developing an attractive benefits package.

With only 29 per cent of employees able to personalise their benefits package, businesses in Ireland still have a way to go

“People at different stages of their careers have differing needs and they increasingly wish to pick and choose the benefits that work for employees and their families. This is especially the case now where needs have changed as the workforce is fully remote. For example, employees no longer have access to onsite services/benefits such as gyms, canteen facilities or even discounted gyms in the vicinity of the workplace.

“This is reflected in our own research with nearly two-thirds of the Irish workforce stressing that the ability to customise benefits is important to them. But with only 29 per cent of employees currently able to personalise their benefits package, businesses in Ireland still have a way to go.”

Personalised benefits are not just a ‘nice-to-have’, they have also emerged as an essential pillar in strengthening workforce resilience.

With the onset of the pandemic, employers have come to recognise that employees are critical to their efforts to operate through the crisis. As businesses look to rebuild and recover, they will need people who can weather storms, who feel secure, productive and motivated in their jobs.

Emergence of digital solutions

In light of these changes, Thornton stated: "As a leading provider of health and benefits solutions, we've been looking at new ways to harness the power of technology to support the emerging health and wellbeing needs of employees in order to build a more resilient workforce.

Our ultimate goal is to help clients to empower their workforce to improve their health and wellbeing

”At the heart of this, is the ability to offer and choose a wide range of high-quality benefits that meet the needs of employees at different stages of their careers and their families at various life stages. Another core foundational element is the ability to help employees save money or get better value for money.

"That’s why Aon has unveiled our new Smart Benefits digital solution that incorporates health, wellbeing and benefits. We can provide businesses in Ireland with the ability to offer their people a unique and highly personalised experience where employees can tailor benefits, access high quality voluntary benefits, engage with their health and  see the extent of their total rewards.

“Our ultimate goal is to help businesses to empower their workforce to improve their health and wellbeing, access the most relevant benefits when they need them and build a more resilient workforce."

For further information on Aon's Smart Benefits, visit aon.com/smart-benefits